IMG 1267Clockwise starting front left: Zheng Ping (class of 2017), Professor Shi Wei, Ruby Ma (2016), Jennifer Gordetsky, Assistant Professors Ginger Duncan (2017) and Brandi McCleskey (2016), Ren (2014), Dejun Shen.

In the Department of Pathology, we are fortunate to have several faculty members who worked as trainees at UAB at one point or another in their academic careers. Follow along with a few of them as they describe when they first came to UAB, and how they wound up as full-time faculty on our team. Their stories are varied, and we are thrilled to count them all as colleagues. 



Written by: Christina Crowe
Media contact: Bob Shepard

GDL.3Craig Mackinnon, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., professor and director, Division of Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics
Photography: Steve Wood
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and UAB Hospital laboratories have established the Genomic Diagnostics Lab, a first step toward an expanded offering of genomic diagnostic testing at UAB. This collaborative project with the UAB Department of Pathology’s Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics Division and UAB Hospital opened in January 2021.

This year April 18-24 is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, an annual celebration of medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in health care and patient advocacy led by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Celebrations took place throughout the week, including lunches for lab staff on Wednesday, April 21, and a photo contest. The Lab Week Photo Contest, sponsored by Marisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine, asked department and hospital lab staff to submit images that "identify beauty found in the midst of a global pandemic."

First Place Winner:
Christine DeGreen, night shift Core Lab – untitled 

Better Genomic Diagnostics for Alabama

By Christina Crowe

DeviceQIAGEN QIASYMPHONY SP Sample Preparation/DNA RNA PurificationGenomic diagnostics are poised to play an increased role in precision medicine at UAB and throughout the state, if Alexander “Craig” Mackinnon, M.D., Ph.D., division director, Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics has anything to say about it. Last year we brought you the story of how Mackinnon joined the Department of Pathology and under the leadership of George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, outlined several initiatives for 2020, including the creation of a precision diagnostics laboratory. That plan was part of Netto’s vision for the department when he came to serve as chair four years ago.

This year, April 14, is Pathologists’ Assistants (PA) Day, a day of appreciation led by the American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants. Raima Memon, M.D., PGY3 Chief Resident, Anatomic Pathology, wrote the following to describe the important role of a PA in pathology, and to celebrate our department’s three hardworking PAs, Joe Begany, Audrey Alexander and Kaitlin Forsythe.

PA Day Logo 2021Celebrating our department's PAs (left to right): Kaitlin Forsythe, Joe Begany and Audrey Alexander

What role does the PA play in the pathology “process”?

PAs are an integral part of the UAB Pathology team. They perform many tasks including, but certainly not limited to: Grossing surgical specimens, procurement research specimens, and training pathology residents.

What role do they play in our Department in particular?

Our PAs have re-shaped the surgical pathology experience. They facilitate resident education not only by teaching and supervising residents during grossing, but also by allowing time to focus on complex and educational specimens. The PAs have been integral in updating equipment (bone saw), safety measures (cut-resistant gloves) and improving specimen turnaround time (increased processing for fatty specimens and submitting additional sections).

XuFeng Xu Feng, Ph.D., is a Professor in the division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, and a member of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets regularly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Feng answers some questions about his experiences with diversity.

AdamWende Adam Wende, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, and a member of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets regularly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Wende answers some questions about his experiences with diversity.

  • Where were you born and raised?

Near the southside of Chicago, in Hometown and Oak Lawn, IL, but I also have influences from living 4 years in rural Galesburg, IL; 6 years in St. Louis, MO; and 7 years in Salt Lake City, UT.

We are excited to announce the successful completion of this year’s residency match program where filled all six of our open slots for 2021-22. Please join us in welcoming the following individuals to our team:

Welcome 2021 Residents

Roger Denio Baker, M.D. (1902–1994) (Denio rhymes with Ohio) was the founding chair of the UAB Department of Pathology from 1944 to 1952. Twenty-one years ago, Baker’s family established the Roger Denio Baker Endowed Support Fund in Anatomical Pathology in his honor. Each year, an award is made from that fund to the resident or fellow who exhibits the greatest skill in the disciplines of Anatomic Pathology.

This spring a substantial contribution from the Baker family has insured that the Baker prizes can continue to be awarded annually in perpetuity.

“The UAB Department of Pathology is grateful for the ongoing support of the Baker family for our programs, and in particular our trainees,” said George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair. “We have a long history of dedication to our education programs and the training of future pathologists. This support is vital to enhancing these training programs.”

The Baker Prize was first awarded in 2002 and, until 2019, was presented annually, at a year-end reception honoring trainees, by David Remember Baker, Dr. Baker’s eldest son. Mr. Baker died March 20, 2020, and we will all miss the excitement he expressed at seeing his father’s legacy continue. Current UAB Pathology faculty who received the Roger Denio Baker Prize include Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, and Associate Director, Anatomic Pathology, and Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Assistant Professor, Forensic Pathology.
48057259998 ca2ffc1d41 oDavid Remember Baker, J.D.

IMG 9665

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) hosts its annual meeting virtually this year, March 13-18.The department will participate throughout the duration of the conference, in a variety of ways. From the Fellowship Fair on Sunday March 14 to a special course on molecular genetic pathology of lung cancer directed by Chair George Netto, M.D.; to a short course on prostate cancer diagnosis and another on renal tumors, both by Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, M.D., Ph.D., Division Director, Anatomic Pathology. Read the full list of UAB Pathology presentations.

IMG 9665Denis Noubouossie Fondjie, M.D., Ph.D., PGY1; Adam Jones, M.D., Hematopathology Fellow

Trainees in the UAB Department of Pathology deserve recognition each and every day for their hard work and dedication, but especially on Thank a Resident Day. Last Friday, February 26, the department worked to celebrate trainees by delivering pastries, goodies, and encouraging words.

Several UAB Pathology faculty members sent in videos of appreciation for the department's trainees which were shared via the UAB Pathology Instagram account. 

In the summer of 2020, the UAB School of Medicine (SOM) created the Hispanic/LATINX Faculty Association under the leadership of Selwyn Vickers, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medicine, Dean of the School of Medicine and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) lead by Mona Fouad, M.D., M.P.H., Professor and Senior Associate Dean. They asked three faculty members to co-lead it: Marcela Frazier from Ophthalmology, Marisa Marques, M.D., from Pathology and Fernando Ovalle from Medicine.
Marisa MarquesMarisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine

The group was initially called simply LATINX, which according to Oxford Languages means “a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)”, when used as a noun, or “relating to people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)” as an adjective. According to Google, it was introduced less than 20 years ago, which may explain many (perhaps most) faculty members were not familiar with it. For this reason, a permanent name is under debate to encompass individuals either born in Mexico, Central or South America, or Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy or France) or who have ancestors that came to the United States from one of these countries.

Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, and Senior Scientist, Experimental Therapeutics, O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Rana Aldrees, M.D., PGY4, have been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AΩA) at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Wei and Aldrees were chosen from among his peers based on his high academic achievement and his demonstration of leadership, professionalism, research, teaching, and service. 

Three UAB Pathology professors, each internationally renowned in their respective specialties, have been honored with the establishment of endowments in their names.

At the February 2021 meeting, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the establishment of two endowments and the renaming of one endowment supported by UAB Pathology, to honor our esteemed colleagues. The Translational Research Endowed Professorship in Pathology, held by C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D., is renamed the Vishnu Reddy Translational Research in Pathology Endowed Professorship, after Dr. Vishnu Reddy. The department also announces the establishment of the Gene P. Siegal Endowed Professorship in Pathology, and the Ona M. Faye-Petersen Endowed Professorship in Pathology.

Vishnu ReddyVishnu Reddy, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology   Head shot of Dr. Gene Siegal, MD (Professor/Director, Anatomic Pathology) in white medical coat, 2017.Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., Robert. W. Mowry Endowed Professor, Anatomic Pathology, and Interim Chair, UAB Department of Genetics    RS8679 ona faye petersen 1Ona Faye-Petersen, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Anatomic Pathology

This month, the Department of Pathology learned we received an honorable mention ranking in the School of Medicine Office for Diversity & Inclusion's  5th annual Diversity Fair, which was virtual this year. Each department was tasked with creating and submitting a video that represented the diversity of the department. Pathology chose Argentinian empanadas as our featured recipe, prepared by Arlene Litovsky, wife of Dr. Silvio Litovsky, Professor, Anatomic Pathology. Arlene prepared beef empanadas while Monica Henderson, Residency Program Coordinator, and her son Aiden prepared a modified chicken recipe.

The two recipe variations went up for a vote, with faculty and trainees from throughout the department tasting and voting on their favorite version. The full video is featured on our department YouTube Channel.

All of the recipes that were submitted for the fair are compiled into a cookbook which can be downloaded here.Featured on the cover are Monica Henderson and Susan Mills, Fellowship Program Coordinator, from our second-place winning 2020 display. 

IMG_0581.JPGMonica Henderson, below, left, and Susan Mills, organizers of the 2020 Pathology display   

Eason Hildreth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, was recently awarded a two-year Early Career Investigator grant from METAvivor Research and Support for his resarch on breast cancer. The title of his proposal is, “Targeting the CSF1R/PU.1 axis and PU.1/BET super-enhancer regulome in breast cancer bone metastasis.” Dr. Hildreth is an Associate Scientist with the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.

METAvivor Research and Support Inc. is an Annapolis-based, volunteer-led, non-profit organization founded by metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients in 2009.  The organization’s main focus is to fund critical research that will lead to advances in treatment options, quality of life and survival for patients diagnosed with MBC.  Since 2009, METAvivor has awarded 129 research grants totaling $17,250,000. METAvivor is the only national organization with a peer-reviewed grant program aimed at exclusively funding MBC research, and 100% of all donations go to fund research. 

Eason Hildreth UAB OriginalEason Hildreth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UAB Pathology

Image from iOS 8

Wellness is key to being able to perform successfully in work and in life. To that end, faculty and trainees in the UAB Department of Pathology have been contributing to a new wellness initiative started by Resident and Wellness Committee representative Natalie Larsen, M.D., PGY-2.

A bulletin board outside the Anatomic Pathology resident room has been transformed to feature compliments and a monthly nomination-based resident spotlight. Compliments are submitted into the box and are hand delivered to recipients by the "compliment fairy."

Larsen says, "When a compliment comes in... I pass it out. I also type a copy to put on the board so others can see nice things people are saying." She thanks those who've submitted compiments thus far, "and helped make someone's day!" 

New additions are posted every week or two weeks depending on the number received. This simple concept may be old-school, but it encourages those passing by to review the posted comments and photos, and learn something new about their colleagues. One example: "Natalie: You are cooler than we deserve. Thanks for this board and all your work for our wellness."

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center recently awarded eight projects for a total of $1.2 million in research grants through its new program, O’Neal Invests. Three of those grants went to UAB Pathology faculty: C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Division Director, Neuropathology; Casey Weaver, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology; and Lalita Shevde-Samant, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology.

The O’Neal Invests program funds UAB investigators initiating new cancer-related projects to do key, preliminary work in order to enable competitive R01 applications.

Volume 3 Issue 1

We are delighted to announce the publication of our latest annual volume of Pathology in Focus. Its content continues to cover recent clinical, educational and research activities and successes of the UAB Department of Pathology along with the new addition of the department's COVID-19 response. Each year, the magazine allows for a chance to highlight our accolades and those successes undoubtedly reached new heights in 2020. 

Marisa Marques, M.D., Professor and Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine has been named one of the two recipients for the 2021 Inaugural UAB School of Medicine Office for Diversity and Inclusion Professional Excellence Award.  The second recipient for this award is Chrystal Rutledge, M.D., Associate Professor, Pediatrics. 

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