The landmark Future of Pathology initiative launched on International Pathology Day with an event at the Royal College of Pathologists. Find out more about how the launch event ignited the conversation about how we transform cancer diagnostics and improve patient care.
The Future of Pathology launches on International Pathology Day
Every year, International Pathology Day is a time to reflect on how far the pathology community has come and where we are all going next. This year, there was an extra special opportunity to focus on the future, with the launch of The Future of Pathology initiative held at the Royal College of Pathologists in London, UK.
As discussions at the event showed, making sense of the future is an important part of a pathologist’s work. In clinical terms, it is essential. Pathology is the first stepping-stone in a cancer patient’s journey – without an accurate diagnosis, the patient’s individual future is at stake.
For pathologists, understanding the future means staying ahead of the curve with scientific and technological advances, and the changing healthcare environment. It means raising the profile of pathology so we can advance cancer diagnostics together. Positive individual futures become a greater possibility. It was in this context that the Future of Pathology initiative launched.
The Future of Pathology is a landmark initiative to spark conversation throughout the pathology community, and for pathologists to engage with healthcare leaders and all those seeking to improve cancer diagnostics and advance patient care.
The launch provided an excellent opportunity to ignite the debate, with pathologists from all over the world coming together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities ahead to transform cancer diagnostics and patient care.
The event opened with a welcome address from Professor Jo Martin, President of the Royal College of Pathologists. Next, qualified pathologist Dr. Keith Wharton, who is also Senior Medical Director at Leica Biosystems – the initiative sponsor – highlighted the fast pace of change in pathology and recounted how the discipline has changed over the years. Veronique Berger, Vice President of Global Marketing, then spoke about the company’s excitement to elevate the topics that could truly transform cancer diagnostics in the future.
It was then time for the Future of Pathology expert panel to reveal four priority focus areas for pathology, which they had defined at a workshop the previous day. These topics were established on the basis that they are too critical to be ignored if we are to truly transform cancer diagnostics in the future.
Dr Bethany Williams, Digital Pathology Fellow at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK, explained how a series of interviews with healthcare leaders from hospital management had informed the panel discussions on key priorities.
Dr Williams then revealed the first topic for The Future of Pathology – one that she will champion: How can we use technology to improve cancer diagnostics? Her focus will be on digital pathology and how it is an enabler to unlock the potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cancer diagnostics.
Taking the stage next, Dr. Tiffany Graham, Gastrointestinal/Surgical Pathologist from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, USA, described the workshop the panel were involved in the previous day where the insights from interviews were shared and the topics for the project were debated and agreed.
Dr. Graham’s topic was revealed as: How do we train and retain the new generation of pathologists? She also spoke on behalf of Dr. Jerad Gardner from the Department of Pathology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA. Dr. Gardner was unable to attend the workshop in person, although he joined via Skype and was part of the decision-making process.
Dr. Gardner’s topic will be: How can we raise the profile and improve the perception of Pathology? Championing the pathology profession is something he is very passionate about as many of his followers on Twitter can testify to.
Dr Matthew Clarke, Clinical Fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research in London UK, concluded events with an explanation of what happens next with the project – which includes a series of blogs, videos and a Future of Pathology report, to be published early in 2020. He encouraged the audience to get involved in the project by forming ‘huddles’ with the panel members around large boards in the foyer of the Royal College and sharing their views on what should be covered in each of the four topics.
Dr Clarke is currently pursuing his passion in molecular pathology and neuropathology in his PhD. For the Future of Pathology initiative, he will explore this topic further, with the question: How can we use molecular pathology to unlock the accessibility of personalized medicine?
Following the presentation, the audience dispersed to talk with panel members and share their own views on what should be included in the four selected topics. Dr Rachel Liebmann, Vice President at the Royal College of Pathologists, chaired discussions around Dr Gardner’s huddle board on raising the profile of pathology.
The conversations generated by the event – in person and social media – will support the panel members as they dig deeper into their chosen topics. Each of the panel are excited to share their progress via social media and The Future of Pathology website ahead of the launch of a report early next year.
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This editorial is part of the Future of Pathology series sponsored by Leica Biosystems; it reflects the views of the authors, in their individual capacities.