Monday, November 18, 2019

First evidence of immune response targeting brain cells in autism

Dr. Matt Anderson
In a paper published in Annals of Neurology, Harvard neuropathologist Matthew Anderson, MD, PhD, and colleagues, report the presence of cellular features consistent with an immune response targeting specialized brain cells in more than two-thirds of autistic brains analyzed postmortem.
These cellular characteristics—not previously observed in autism—lend critical new insight into autism’s origins and could pave the way to improved diagnosis and treatment for people with this disorder.
Read more here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Featured Neuropathologist: Eddie Lee, MD, PhD

Edward B. Lee, MD, PhD
From time to time on Neuropathology Blog, we profile a prominent neuropathologist. In the past, we've featured the likes of Craig HorbinskiRoger McLendon, Jan Leestma, Karra Jones, Areli Cuevas-Ocampo, Michael Punsoni, and PJ Cimino, among others. Today we feature Eddie Lee, MD, PhD. Dr. Lee is an assistant professor in the pathology department at the University of Pennsylvania. Here's a Q&A with the illustrious Dr. Lee:


1. Why did you decide to become a neuropathologist?
The three major topics that dominate Alzheimer’s disease research are amyloid, tau, and neuroinflammation.  The discovery of genetic mutations that cause AD or related dementias, and more recent GWAS studies support the idea that these three are perhaps the most important factors that drive AD pathophysiology.  However, it is sometimes forgotten that these were first and foremost neuropathologic observations discovered by studying human tissues using histology and/or biochemistry by George Glenner and the McGeers.  Genetics came later and was made possible by the neuropathology.  The same can be said regarding TDP-43.  This taught me that neuropathology can be a rock solid foundation for building a research career.  I have always been drawn to basic biomedical research but think that clinical training provides a sort of “compass” by which you can guide your research program.  To this day, the foundation of my research is neuropathology because it grounds me towards studying the disease itself.
2. Name a couple of important professional mentors. Why were they important to you?
I did my PhD with Virginia Lee at University of Pennsylvania.  She has been doing research for decades together wither her life partner, John Trojanowski.  Together, I saw the two of them seamlessly integrate neurodegenerative disease neuropathology with basic science.  In terms of neuropathology, I point to many with whom I have been privileged to train, including Nicholas Gonatas, Bill Schlaepfer, John Trojanowski, Zissimos Mourelatos, Lucy Rorke-Adams, Jeff Golden and Alex Judkins. 


3. What advice would you give to a pathology resident interested in doing a neuropathology fellowship?
Get to know what neuropathologists do.  There is a wide variation of career paths available for neuropathologist, and the most important thing for you to figure out is what kind of neuropathologist you might want to become.  This is key because this should be what is guiding your choice in neuropathology fellowship.  So figure out what your ‘local’ neuropathologist does, and look nationally for what other neuropathologists are doing.
For those who are interested in a more basic science track neuropathology career, here is a historical perspective.  Since the beginning of academic medicine, there has been a tension between the reductionist approach where medicine is a branch of science (supported by people like Flexner and Welch) versus a more humanistic approach where medicine is an art (supported by people like Peabody and Osler).  For Peabody and Osler, clinical observation and pathologic correlation was tantamount.  In contrast, the reductionists thought that “by the end of the [19th] century, clinicopathologic correlation was reaching the limits of its explanatory possibilities.”  I will say that this sentiment is still very much alive in many corners of biomedical research. I urge you to try to think mechanistically as much as possible, to strive to understand not only pathology but pathophysiology.

4. What city would you like a future American Association of Neuropathologists meeting to be held and why?
Interesting question for me as I am currently the Assistant Secretary Treasurer for AANP and so I help identify and select the AANP meeting sites.  There is a lot that goes into the decision.  We have done our best to maintain a reasonable cost for attendees.  There are many sites that are excluded, often from more popular locations, because the cost for attendees would be significantly higher not only for AANP but for people booking rooms.  We also look at whether anyone in the US can fly to the site with at most one layover, whether there are sufficient restaurants close by, etc.  These factors greatly reduce the number of sites that are possible.  I helped pick Monterey, CA for the 2020 meeting for which I am super psyched.  A big question that it would be good to ask everyone is where to have the 2024 meeting which will be the 100th AANP meeting.  We will be choosing the site in the next year or so.  One thought is to go expensive/luxurious (Hawaii anyone?) vs. traditional/historic (Atlantic City, NJ which is where the original AANP meetings were held).  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Forensic neuropathologist featured in AMA’s  “Shadow Me” Specialty Series

Michelle Jorden, MD

Dr.Mich​elle Jordenchief medical examiner for the county of Santa Clara in California, was recently featured in the American Medical Association's "Shadow Me" Specialty Series

Dr. Jorden  has been employed in Santa Clara County since 2008. She obtained her medical degree from Northwestern, and did her anatomic and neuropathology training at Stanford. She did her fellowship in forensic pathology at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Chicago.