Welcome from the Chair
I am delighted to welcome you to the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. We are the department of the future – a department that is at the cutting edge of clinical care, that anticipates and addresses the future needs of patients and communities, and that prepares the healthcare workforce for what lies ahead.
We are growing in every way! To fulfill our vision of leading through innovation, 16 new faculty members have joined us over the past three years and are advancing our programs in research and clinical subspecialty areas. Yvonne Wan, an award-winning scientist and mentor whose work focuses on the role of retinoids and their receptors in liver function and disease, came on board as vice chair of research in 2012. She also serves as scientific director of UC Davis Health System’s biorepository program and represents UC Davis Health System in EngageUC, the exciting biorepository effort uniting all 5 University of California medical centers. Richard Levenson, our vice chair of strategic technologies, also joined us in 2012. Internationally known for his creativity and innovation, The Scientist magazine named Dr. Levenson’s optical dynamic contrast enhancement technique one of the top ten life science innovations in 2010. Through Drs. Wan’s and Levenson’s leadership, our research efforts are aligned with the forces of change in our field, and include partnerships with scientists across our health system and campus, including biophotonics, engineering, and veterinary medicine, as well as with other universities and industry. Novel diagnostic devices and interpretative tools for critical emergency and disaster care are in development in the UC Davis-Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Point-of-Care Technologies Center, founded by professor Gerald Kost. The National Institutes of Health recognized professor Michael Hogarth, and his team with an Advancing Innovation Award for developing a paperless information system to help speed discovery of new breast cancer therapies.
More than 5 million clinical tests are performed annually in our state-of-the-art laboratory facilities which showcases the largest robotic system in inland Northern California. To ensure that we always provide the highest level expertise, our clinical services are led by subspecialty teams of pathology faculty who that routinely use leading-edge methods and tools. Digital pathology is an everyday part of our work and includes telecytology to support collection of fine needle aspiration biopsy in multiple locations within our large medical center, and “virtual tumor boards” with our colleagues in our Cancer Care Network and beyond. Bone and soft tissue expert Dariusz Borys leads a popular digital sarcoma club so that he and other experts can share rare cases for consultation and education. Our 50 pathology and laboratory medicine faculty members and more than 400 clinical and academic staff are proud to provide comprehensive laboratory testing and pathology services throughout the UC Davis Health System, as well as for other hospitals and clinics throughout our region via our outreach service, UC Davis Medical Diagnostics.
Our faculty love to teach and are proud to educate award-winners. In 2012, the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) honored three of our trainees: Rebecca Sonu received the Resident Representative Leadership Award, clinical laboratory science students Emily Iong and Alexander Ko were National Student Honor Award recipients, and Emily was also chosen as a ASCP Career Ambassador. In our training programs, we strongly emphasize emerging themes important to the future of practice of pathology and laboratory medicine: our residency program has a comprehensive new curriculum in genomic pathology with more than twice the content provided in most residencies, and new biomarkers, informatics, and other new tools are regularly included in our daily work as well as for research projects. A variety of fellowships round out our post-graduate offerings, including cytopathology, hematopathology, and transfusion medicine, as well as surgical pathology fellowships that provide opportunities for subspecialty focus. We are also proud of our creativity in medical student teaching. Recognized among the school’s top educators, our faculty are institutional leaders in curricular reform, team-based learning, and in course integration: professor Regina Gandour-Edwards is a recipient of the Tupper Prize, the school’s highest award for teaching, and both she and professor Hanne Jensen have been recipients of the annual Kaiser Teaching Award. To ensure that upper-level students become knowledgeable users of laboratory services, regardless of the specialty they ultimately pursue, we’ve updated our fourth year electives to allow more opportunity to bring students into the clinical labs. We include inter-professional educational interactions with students in our Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program which has a 70-year tradition of excellence. All of our graduates are critical to providing the high-quality healthcare workforce necessary to serve Northern California.
In addition to defining new standards of excellence in research, education, and patient care, I have a personal commitment to defining new standards for the modern health-care workforce. I am exploring new paradigms to provide work-life balance for our faculty and staff with through my NIH-funded project on the effect of flexible policies on faculty careers with my internal medicine colleague Amparo Villablanca. We are proud that our work led to an Innovation Award for Faculty Career Flexibility from the American Council on Education and the Sloan Foundation. As a busy pathologist, wife and mother, it is important to me that our department creates and models a healthy relationship between work, career achievement and responsibilities to those that we love.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss all the incredible work being done in our department and the UC Davis Health System. I hope that you will explore our website to learn more about us, and visit us in person, too.
Lydia Pleotis Howell, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine