Monday, February 22, 2016
Featured Future Neuropathologist: Areli K. Cuevas-Ocampo, MD
Every so often, neuropathology blog posts a profile of a neuropathologist. This time, we feature a future neuropathologist, Dr. Areli K. Cuevas-Ocampo. We wish Areli the best of luck as she embarks upon a neuropathology fellowship at UCSF this summer...
I was born and went to Medical School in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico. After graduation I moved to Mexico City to train in Anatomic Pathology at the National Medical Center 21st Century, a program of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Because fellowships options in my country were limited, I thought about pursuing specialized training in the United States. I moved to Massachusetts in the summer of 2012 to start my AP/CP training at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts affiliated program. Toward the end of my PGY-2 year, I realized that neuropathology was the perfect fit for me and became more actively involved in the neuropathology activities at my program in addition to my service obligations like signing out neuropathology cases, participating in the organization of the monthly neuropathology interdepartmental conferences and brain cutting sessions for residents. During my 2nd and 3rd year of residency I attended and presented scientific posters at the AANP meetings in Portland OR and Denver CO, respectively. During my third year of residency, I became particularly interested in the molecular aspects of brain tumors and started (and currently am) working on a project involving ATRX tumor marker by IHC and its possible function as a surrogate marker for 1p/19q co-deletion. Currently I am the Junior Member of the CAP Neuropathology Committee. Upon completion of my AP/CP residency this summer, I will be starting my fellowship in neuropathology at the University of California in San Francisco.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A NEUROPATHOLOGIST?
In spite of enjoying pretty much every subspecialty in pathology; the brain is the brain! I have always been interested in such a complex and intimidating organ as a whole: macroscopic, microscopic, and now molecular and genomic levels (and beyond). Obviously there are other subspecialties within neuropathology that I find intriguing as well. Since it is clear that molecular technologies are, and will be changing the way pathologists approach diseases and make diagnoses; l want to be a participant in this shift, helping with the incorporation of those changes into neuropathology and hopefully making contributions in the understanding of cancer biology of brain tumors and neurodegenerative conditions.
NAME A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT PROFESSIONAL MENTORS. WHY WERE THEY IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I am very fortunate to have met many role models throughout my career, so it is difficult to mention only two. I am sure I will also meet inspiring mentors along the way, but at this moment I want to acknowledge Dr. Christopher Otis for whom I have a deep respect and admiration not only as a pathologist but as a person. He has many attributes that makes him notable but I especially like his professionalism, competency, leadership and integrity. He inspires me to be better and to go the extra mile. The other crucial person in my career is Dr. Luis A. Moral, the staff neuropathologist at my program. He is not only a knowledgeable and competent neuropathologist but to me he has been a friend and a confidante, playing a crucial role in my fellowship election and being an advisor in my projects. Last but not least I would like to thank my former pathology colleagues and professors from Mexico who always believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my career goals, especially: Dr. Ignacio Felix, Dr. Enrique Blanco-Lemus, Dr. Guillermo Castellanos, Dra. Luz Ma. Gomez, Dr. Miguel Reyes-Mugica (who is the Chair of Pediatric Pathology at UPMC), Dr. Rodolfo Gatica-Marquina and Dr. Victor M. Sanchez-Fernandez.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PATHOLOGY RESIDENT INTERESTED IN DOING NEUROPATHOLOGY FELLOWSHIP?
As everything in life, you should pursue a career in neuropathology because that is what you like and what makes you happy. There are different paths you can follow in order to become a neuropathologist. In my case I took the longest one: the AP/CP -> NP track (6 years) since I found out that my true calling was neuropathology at the end of my 2nd year of AP/CP residency. The other track is the researcher route, where you find most of the NP residents who also have a MD/PhD degree. They do 2 years of AP first and then 2 years of NP. The career opportunities for neuropathologists (coming from either track) are definitely there, but you need to be flexible in terms of relocation, not ruling out doing another fellowship or a post-doc and staying open to the possibility of covering other pathology services (like general surgical pathology) besides neuropathology once you get a job.
WHAT CITY WOULD YOU LIKE A FUTURE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NEUROPATHOLOGISTS MEETING TO BE HELD?
In no particular order; I would include some of the states that I haven't visited yet: Alaska (Anchorage), Minnesota (Minneapolis), Utah (Salt Lake City), and Washington (Seattle).