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Positive Spin in the Lab

OU Medical Center Lab Manager's Good Deeds Earn National Honors
April 23, 2013 4:37 PM by Kelly Bocich

When OU Medical Center laboratory manager Crystal Glass walks into a room she leaves it a better place than it was before, and her compassion and contagious dedication have earned her the HCA 2012 Employee Frist Humanitarian Award presented by the hospital's parent company.

Glass, a seven-year employee who manages the anatomic pathology laboratory and transfusion services, is the second employee from OU Medical Center to win the national award.

OU Medical Center chaplain and 2002 Frist Humanitarian Award winner Danny Cavett said it's clear to him why Glass won the award.

"Because she walks around with her heart wide open," he said.

Cavett said Glass brings laughter, positive energy and engaging stories wherever she goes. People are naturally drawn to her.

The awards, created in 1971, honor individuals for their outstanding humanitarian and volunteer activities. The Humanitarian Awards are given each year in recognition of the caring spirit and philanthropic work of the late Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., a founder of HCA. Employees and volunteers who demonstrate extraordinary commitment and dedication to caregiving and their community are selected around the country and honorees are recognized at the local and national levels. The two national winners are selected from the local honorees.

The highest honor HCA employees and volunteers can receive, the Frist Humanitarian Award includes a $5,000 donation to the charity of the recipient's choice, $5,000 in cash and $1,000 in HCA stock.

Glass' outstanding work includes volunteering as vice president, board member and camp leader of Cavett Kids Foundation, which provides camping experiences for terminally and chronically ill children.

She also helped establish the first cancer screening laboratories in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria. She travels the western United States educating young adults at youth rallies and church camps about how to prevent lung, liver and cervical cancers by managing their behaviors. Glass also founded the Turtle Club, a way to encourage children undergoing surgery by giving them a plush turtle and a personal visit.

"Crystal will tell you her volunteer efforts are a direct outpouring of her love for her work in the laboratory. She has said, ‘Some days (bad days) I look in the microscope and see cancer staring back at me.'  She doesn't stare back -- she takes action; and it starts with her efforts to help kids cope with cancer," said Charles L. Spicer, president and CEO of OU Medical System. "It is truly an honor to have nominated Crystal for the 2012 Employee Frist Humanitarian Award.

Spicer's sentiment is echoed by Chaplain Cavett. "Crystal greets them all with open arms and makes sure that each and every child knows that she loves them for exactly who they are. She empowers them to be proud of their scars and their medical problems. She listens to them, laughs with them, cries with them. She is an incredible leader, motivator, friend and role model," Cavett said.

Glass will receive her award on May 20 at corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will be viewed live by employees via a video feed at OU Medical Center. A subsequent celebration will be held on the OU Medical Center campus at a later date.

First Recipient Selected in McKesson $1 Million EHR Giveaway
March 11, 2013 9:46 AM by Kelly Graham

McKesson announced that the Bread of Healing Clinic of Milwaukee, Wis. is the first recipient of its McKesson Practice ChoiceTM electronic health record (EHR) software as part of the McKesson Gives Back initiative. The clinic will be able to use the new EHR system as part of its focus on delivering higher-quality care to uninsured patients across three locations in Milwaukee.

Launched in November 2012, the McKesson Gives Back initiative is designed to recognize and reward physician practices who provide unreimbursed healthcare to America's neediest citizens. In the spirit of one good deed deserves another, selected physicians will receive a free 26-month license to the McKesson Practice Choice software. In total, McKesson expects to award worth more than $1 million in software licenses.

"We are honored that McKesson chose our clinic as a recipient of the McKesson Gives Back program," said Barbara Horner-Ibler, medical director of the Bread of Healing Clinic. "We know the benefits of having an EHR, but our non-profit clinic could not justify making that investment. Having the McKesson Practice Choice EHR will transform our clinics and how we care for our patients."

Opened in 2000, the Bread of Healing Clinic provided care for 126 patients in its first year. Now, 12 years later, the clinic has grown to serve more than 1,400 uninsured patients who have chronic illnesses. The clinic offers primary care as well as specialist care in areas such as cardiology, podiatry, neurology, nephrology, physical therapy and dentistry. Bread of Healing Clinic's growth coupled with the increasingly dynamic and evolving healthcare industry has presented clinic personnel with many challenges, making McKesson Practice Choice a welcome addition to the practice.

"Our volunteer providers have been struggling with the increased demands of being able to effectively communicate as well as manage all of the scheduling and patient records across our three sites to accommodate patient needs and changes in schedules," added Horner-Ibler. "We are manually transferring patient records between the three clinics, which is a very inefficient way to practice medicine. With McKesson Practice Choice, we will have access to all patient records at all points of care. More importantly, the EHR will empower us to track our population's health, allowing us to better manage our patients' chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension."

McKesson Practice Choice is a fully integrated, web-based EHR and practice management solution that gives providers clinical, financial, operational and patient tools to help them manage their practice and provide quality care to their patients.

"In the evolving healthcare landscape, electronic health record technology has become almost a must-have for providers," said David Henriksen, senior vice president/general manager of McKesson Physician Practice Solutions. "Unfortunately, healthcare professionals, like Dr. Horner-Ibler and the Bread of Healing Clinic, do not always have the resources or access to implement systems. McKesson Gives Back is doing what it can to help these providers leverage the power of health information technology to deliver higher quality healthcare to Americans who are in great need of healthcare services."

McKesson Gives Back will provide free 26-month licenses of McKesson Practice Choice to a total of 100 healthcare professionals, like Bread of Healing Clinic, who provide charity care to the underserved and uninsured. A McKesson committee will select these providers from applicants in nine other metropolitan areas: Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Miami, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Memphis, and Newark.

McKesson Gives Back is aligned with McKesson's Better Health 2020TM, an initiative designed to help healthcare providers achieve better patient care, better business health and better connectivity in their communities.  As organizations continue to address complex challenges in the new healthcare environment, including the need to reduce costs, coordinate care and assume more risk and manage complex payment models, McKesson is committed to continuing to support and help its customers generate positive clinical and financial outcomes and position them for success in the future.

JALA Names “The 2013 JALA Ten” Breakthroughs in Innovation
February 7, 2013 3:16 PM by Kelly Bocich
To honor scientific achievements that have made seminal impact toward addressing key biological and medical quandaries, the Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) has named The JALA Ten for 2013 in its February 2013 issue (Volume 18, Issue 1).

The JALA Ten is an annual editorial feature that highlights 10 top technological breakthroughs across a spectrum of fields that include but is not limited to laboratory automation, drug discovery, drug screening, novel therapeutic strategies and delivery technologies, diagnostics, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, microtechnology as it relates to biology and medicine, novel characterization techniques and more. It was a requirement that nominated work be reported in a peer-reviewed publication.

According to JALA Editor-in-Chief Dean Ho, PhD, of the University of California Los Angeles, "Our 2013 JALA Ten nominations hailed from all corners of the research universe, including universities; companies, both early stage and established; and government research laboratories. Our ten honorees have developed new approaches that range from the fundamental to those that have been successfully transitioned into commercial products. This year's selections demonstrate the remarkable progress that can be realized when top scientists and engineers combine their talents with those of translationally minded clinicians and entrepreneurs."

The 2013 JALA Ten (in alphabetical order by first author)

Optimizing Design Outcomes
By Francesco Ciucci1, Tomonori Honda2 and Maria C. Yang2
1Universitat Heidelberg, Germany
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

High-Throughput Three-Dimensional Tracking of Human Sperms Using Computational On-Chip Imaging
By Ting-Wei Su, Liang Xue and Aydogan Ozcan
University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Cantilever-Free Scanning Probe Molecular Printing
By Louis Giam and Chad A. Mirkin
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Reversible Regulation of Aptamer Activity with Effector-Responsive Hairpin Oligonucleotides
By Na Li
University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

Hydrodynamic Stretching of Single Cells for Large Population Mechanical Phenotyping
By Daniel R. Gossett, Henry T. K. Tse, Serena A. Lee, Yong Ying, Anne G. Lindgren, Otto O. Yang, Jianyu Rao, Amander T. Clark and Dino Di Carlo
University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Thermal Biosensing with Phase Change Nanoparticles
By Chaoming Wang, Zhaoyong Sun, Liyuan Ma and Ming Su
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Controlling Spatial Organization of Multiple Cell Types in Defined 3D Geometries
By Halil Tekin1,2, Jefferson G. Sanchez1,2, Christian Landeros1,2, Karen Dubbin1,2, Robert Langer1 and Ali Khademhosseini1,2
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Selective Trapping and Manipulation of Microscale Objects Using Mobile Microvortices
By Li Zhang1,2, Tristan Petit1,3, Kathrin E. Peyer1, Bradley Kratochvil1, and Bradley J. Nelson1
1Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Zurich, Switzerland
2The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
3Diamond Sensors Laboratory, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Acoustic Tweezers: A Noninvasive, Noncontact, Versatile, On-Chip Platform for Cell Manipulation
By Xiaoyun Ding, Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Brian Kiraly, Hongjun Yue, Sixing Li, I-Kao Chiang, Jinjie Shi, Stephen J. Benkovic and Tony Jun Huang
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Simultaneous Detection of Ca2+ and Diacylglycerol Signaling in Living Cells
By Paul Tewson1, Mara Westenberg1, Yongxin Zhao2, Robert E. Campbell3, Anne Marie Quinn1 and  Thomas E. Hughes13
1Montana Molecular, Bozeman, MT, USA
2University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
3Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA

Nominations were open to SLAS members and nonmembers. A JALA Ten Selection Committee evaluated all nominations received, specifically searching for work that generated profound impact upon the general fields of biology and medicine. Fundamental and applied breakthroughs were eligible, and all fields of innovation with specific relevance toward biology and medicine were considered.
CAP Honors Top 5 Junior Member Abstract Winners
August 31, 2012 11:24 AM by Kelly Bocich

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) will recognize five CAP junior members for their outstanding scientific posters and original research. The award recipients will be honored at a special ceremony on September 9, 2012, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, Calif., at the College's annual meeting, CAP'12—THE Pathologists' Meeting™.  All winners will have their abstracts published in the September issue of the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.

The CAP '12 Abstracts Program is a competitive program sponsored by the College of American Pathologists. The program is designed to promote a broad range of research in pathology. It offers pathologists and research scientists the opportunity to submit original research to their peers in a poster presentation format. Editors from the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine evaluated submissions to this program.

"It is an honor to recognize these five exceptional CAP members for their original research," said CAP President Stanley J. Robboy, MD, FCAP.  "Their dedication to pathology and the advancement of science in an effort to enhance patient care is remarkable."

The CAP Abstracts Program provides pathologists with a unique opportunity to enhance their research skills, develop writing proficiency, gain practical experience at presenting their findings, and contribute to the literature and advancement of pathology.

The top five CAP junior member abstract winners for the CAP '12 meeting are:

First Place ($1,500 award)
Tuyet Nhung Ton Nu, MD
McGill University Health Center in Montreal
"Correlation Between Clinical and Autopsy Diagnoses in Neonatal and Pediatric Populations"

Second Place ($1,000 award)
Eleonora Savitchi, MD
Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. 
"A Proposed Algorithm for In-House Cryptosporidium and Giardia Testing"

Third Place ($750 award)
Jihong Sun, MD
Indiana University in Indianapolis
"Lymphocytic Colitis Is Associated With Lactase Deficiency in Pediatric Population"
Top Abstracts Press Release / Add One

Fourth Place ($500 award)
Liping Liu, MD
University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha
"Sequential Histologic Changes in the Healing Process in Pediatric Small Bowel Allografts Treated for Acute Rejection"

Fifth Place ($500 award)
Kinda Hayek, MD
Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. 
"Is the Two-Tier Ovarian Serous Carcinoma Grading System Potentially Useful in Stratifying Uterine Serous Carcinoma? A Large Multi-Institutional Analysis"

Olympus Microscope Objectives Earn Innovation Award
August 9, 2012 1:10 PM by Kelly Bocich

Olympus SCALEVIEW microscope objectives, which allow researchers to see far deeper into tissue than was ever before possible, have earned one of the microscopy field's highest awards. The Olympus 4mm and 8mm SCALEVIEW microscope objectives were judged among the year's ten best microscopy innovations in the 2012 Microscopy Today Innovation Award competition.

The objectives, which also have received other honors this year, help facilitate breakthrough research on the functioning of the brain and other vital organs. Until recently, brain science researchers using light microscopes had to slice thin sections of tissue. Every cut damaged and potentially deformed the samples, and the tissue itself was so opaque that it scattered most light. But with the new objectives, researchers can see up to 8mm deep without slicing. This allows them to see the tangled, complex interconnectedness of the brain much more clearly. Having a better understanding the brain's functioning could ultimately help sufferers with Parkinson's, autism, Alzheimer's, traumatic injuries and more.

The new objectives work so well because they were specifically designed and engineered for usewith a revolutionary clearing reagent developed by Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki and his team at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan (results published online in Nature Neuroscience: Hama et al. Aug 30, 2011). Using the objectives and reagent together, brain tissue is made nearly transparent; scientists can now see the brain's interconnectedness as never before.

The Microscopy Today Innovation Awards were established to honor innovative microscopy-related products and methods. Ten equally ranked winners are selected each year on the basis of their importance and usefulness to the microscopy community and their ability to help facilitate better, faster, or entirely new methods of analysis.

America's Best
August 6, 2012 1:56 PM by Kerri Penno

U.S. News & World Report recently issued its annual list of America's best hospitals, including the country's top-ranked hospitals for cancer. All 50 of these cancer hospitals are users of Elekta solutions, which include advanced information management, treatment planning, brachytherapy and treatment delivery.

"Consistently ranking among the best in any care delivery category is testament to the dedication and commitment of a healthcare organization," says Jay Hoey, executive vice president, Elekta North America. "We congratulate these hospitals for their great service to patients, are we are honored that these organizations ranking the best in cancer care delivery, in particular, have chosen Elekta solutions to treat their patients."

U.S. News & World Report grades hospitals not on routine procedures but on how well they manage complex, demanding situations. The 2,227 hospitals that met the initial selection criteria received a score between 0 and 100. This score was based on the hospitals' reputation, patient safety and care-related factors such as nursing and patient services. The 50 highest-scoring hospitals were ranked.

These hospitals were ranked in 16 specialties such as cancer, orthopedics, urology and heart disease. Only 148 hospitals--of the 4,793 in the original analysis--scored high enough to be ranked in even one of the 16 specialties. Of these hospitals, an Honor Roll of 17 Best Hospitals was chosen, all of which provide care with the help of an Elekta solution.

In the top-50 cancer specialty hospitals listed, all 50, or 100 percent, utilize Elekta equipment or software, including:

  • Leksell Gamma Knife or Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, a non-invasive method for treating brain tumors and other neurological disorders. Finely adapted to intracranial radiosurgery, Leksell Gamma Knife is preferred for its accuracy, efficiency and outstanding therapeutic response. 26 of the top 50 cancer hospitals listed (52%) are Gamma Knife users.  
  • Elekta Infinity, a digital linear accelerator optimized for VMAT. Offering rapid IMRT treatment delivered in single or multiple arcs that more precisely targets the tumor while protecting surrounding healthy tissue, Infinity delivers superior dose conformance, treatment speed and ultra low dose safeguards.
  • MOSAIQ®, an oncology information system that centralizes radiation oncology, particle therapy and medical oncology patient data into a single user interface, accessible by multi-disciplinary teams across multiple locations. 26 of the top 50 cancer hospitals listed (52%) are MOSAIQ users.
  • Monaco is a state-of-the-art IMRT, VMAT and SBRT planning solution that brings new concepts to the clinic.  Monaco features innovative biological cost functions with multi-criterial constrained optimization, a powerful leaf sequence optimizer and a robust Monte Carlo dose calculation algorithm. Monaco helps make the planning process easier, more straightforward and clinically reliable.
  • Clarity, a non-invasive, non-ionizing image guidance technology that provides soft tissue visualization and is compatible with any existing linac. By providing clear soft tissue imaging of target anatomy, Clarity eliminates the need for invasive fiducial markers or added X-ray imaging dose.
  • Oncentra Brachy*, a volume-based treatment planning for HDR/PDR brachytherapy that improves workflows and reduces planning time by automatically reconstructing the radiation applicator's exact geometry using a 3D library.

U.S. News & World Report has issued the annual rankings of medical centers for 23 years. The complete rankings can be viewed at usnews.com/besthospitals.

*Oncentra Brachy is not for sale in all markets.

Siemens and ASCP Award 100+ Scholarships to Med Lab Students in 2012
March 19, 2012 1:45 PM by Kelly Bocich

Editor's Note: This recent press release from Siemens offers some positive news worth sharing.

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) have awarded a combined $182,000 in scholarships to the nation's top undergraduate and graduate medical laboratory students for the 2011-2012 academic year. The Siemens - ASCP Scholarship Program was established in 2003 to address the nation's shortage of qualified medical laboratory personnel, defray education costs and promote the profession. To date, more than $1.4 million in scholarships has been awarded to qualified medical laboratory students. The 70% increase in applications over the past two years is an indicator of the continued strength of and industry need for the scholarship program. See appendix for a complete list of winners.

Medical laboratory personnel perform tests critical to the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of disease and other healthcare conditions. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report declared lab technicians and technologists the "unsung heroes of the healthcare industry", and medical and clinical laboratory scientists among "The 50 Best Careers of 2011" in its annual career survey. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 138,000 new laboratory professionals will be needed in the workforce by this year, but fewer than 50,000 will be trained. The Siemens - ASCP Scholarship Program helps laboratories reduce this staffing shortfall by supporting students interested in pursuing a degree in medical laboratory science.

"We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the scholarship recipients," said Michael Reitermann, CEO, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. "Each of these outstanding individuals will play an important role in providing quality healthcare to patients, and we feel privileged to help make a difference in this vital profession. This scholarship program is a great example of Siemens' commitment to the laboratory profession and the future of diagnostic medicine."

Awards are available to eligible students in the U.S. pursuing associate, baccalaureate, or master's degrees in medical laboratory science. Special Legacy Scholarships are awarded to students who follow family members into the laboratory profession. Scholarships are awarded by the ASCP, which also administers the program.

"This is a pivotal period of time in our country's healthcare system," noted Mark Bailey, MA, HTL (ASCP)CM, Assistant Professor and Program Director-Histotechnology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, and Chair of the ASCP Scholarship Committee. "We need a clinical laboratory workforce that meets the needs of a growing population of patients, and to manage laboratory resources wisely. The Siemens - ASCP Scholarships have assisted hundreds of clinical laboratory students each year in support of their education, providing them the skill-sets needed to administer laboratory medicine."

The Siemens - ASCP Scholarship Program reflects Siemens' focus on people development, which is a goal of the recently launched Siemens Agenda 2013 program.
For more information about the Siemens - ASCP Scholarship Program, please visit: www.usa.siemens.com/diagnostics-scholarships or www.ascp.org/scholarships.

Launched in November 2011, Agenda 2013 is a global initiative to further strengthen the innovative power and competitiveness of the Siemens Healthcare Sector. Specific measures will be implemented in four fields of action: Innovation, Competitiveness, Regional Footprint, and People Development.

Outstanding Achievements
February 16, 2012 1:41 PM by Kerri Penno

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) has announced its 2012 award winners. 

  • Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine: Considered the premier award of the Association, it is granted as a lifetime achievement award for contributions to the clinical chemistry field. Individuals selected for this award have made significant contributions in all aspects of clinical chemistry, particularly service, education and research; have achieved international stature and reputation by virtue of their efforts; and have demonstrated long standing service to the AACC, either at the grass roots, national and/or international levels. The 2012 award winner is Thomas Moyer, PhD, director, Metals Laboratory, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
  • Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry: This award recognizes individuals who have worked throughout their careers to advance the professional status of clinical chemists and the professional objectives of AACC. Historically, this award has been conferred upon our senior scientists, who have made significant contributions to clinical chemistry in its growth phase. The 2012 award winner is John Sherwin, PhD, of Canonsburg, PA.
  • Outstanding Contributions in Education: This award recognizes an individual who has devoted a major portion of his/her professional life to enhancing the practice and profession of clinical chemistry through education. The educator selected for this award has made significant, innovative, and/or cumulatively outstanding contributions to education in clinical laboratory science. These contributions should include excellence in education beyond the local level, with widespread recognition of the recipient's excellence which may include teaching, directing, mentoring, writing, and speaking abilities, ideally to multiple levels of audiences. The 2012 award winner is David Sacks, MD, senior investigator and chief, Clinical Chemistry Service, the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.
  • AACC-NACB Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry In a Selected Area of Research: This award recognizes especially meritorious research contributions by an individual in a specific area of clinical chemistry. A clinical chemist who receives this award has achieved national and international status for his or her pioneering efforts in an area of research considered fundamental to the science and has been considered among the world's foremost experts in that specific discipline. The 2012 award winner is Y. M. Dennis Lo, PhD, professor of Chemical Pathology and Li Ka Shing professor of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • Outstanding Scientific Achievements by a Young Investigator:  This award recognizes and encourages the professional development of a young investigator who has demonstrated exceptional scientific achievements early in his or her career. It is given based on the degree of originality exhibited in the individual's creative process and the significance of the research conducted relevant to the field of clinical laboratory medicine. It is conferred upon an individual who has the potential to be an outstanding investigator of the future. The 2012 award winner Andy Hoofnagle, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
  • The AACC Helen Free Travel Award: New for 2012, the Helen Free Travel Award was established to recognize Helen Free, whose many achievements include the development of the first urine glucose dipstick. This award is for non-doctoral applicants residing in the United States only and is worth $2,000 to assist in travel to attend any AACC meeting within a 12 month period. The award winner is Xuan Sue Lam MT(ASCP); MB(ASCP), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ.
  • Morton K. Schwartz Award for Significant Contributions in Cancer Research Diagnostics: This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions in cancer research through diagnostics.  The scientist who receives this award has achieved national and international status for his or her groundbreaking work in clinical diagnostic research in cancer and is considered to be among the world's foremost experts in that specific arena. Awarded in even numbered years only, the 2012 award winner is Hans Lilja, MD, PhD, attending research clinical chemist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.

The awards will be presented at AACC's 2012 Annual Meeting, July 15-19, in Los Angeles, CA. 

Pathology Resident Provides Healthcare to Kenyans
January 6, 2012 8:17 AM by Jill Hoffman

Third-year pathology resident Kali Tu is focused on making a difference to improve health. She recently returned from a two-week elective residency training rotation in Malindi, Kenya, where she provided medical care to approximately 400 rural residents with little or no access to health-care services.


Malindi is a coastal town located on the Indian Ocean about halfway between Mombasa and Somalia In Africa. A two-hour flight from Nairobi, Malindi and the surrounding region have a population of about 200,000 residents.


The trip to Malindi was the second for Tu, who joined a team of 26 American physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, and medical and high-school students. The trip was organized by Vanderbilt University ear, nose and throat surgeons and the Caris Foundation, a Texas nonprofit group that arranges medical care for treatable conditions for individuals in developing nations. The foundation worked with the two main hospitals in Malindi—Tawfiq, a Muslim-mission hospital, and the public District Hospital—and invited local residents with visible head, neck and facial disorders for evaluation and treatment by the team.


During the trip, surgeons operated on more than 200 patients, and Tu would travel between both hospitals on a daily basis as needed to examine patients and diagnose tumors and margins. The experience broadened her horizons, advanced her training and exposed her to another culture and healthcare system.


"The experience was an incredible educational opportunity," says Tu, who joined the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine's residency training program in 2010 in her second year of training. "I gained a lot of experience in performing fine-needle aspirations, assessing cell specimens and communicating with other physicians. It also was extremely fulfilling to work directly with patients and surgeons in an area with low resources."


At the hospitals the medical team had access to a total of three operating rooms, each of which had two tables for treating patients side by side. Surgeons worked eight to 10 hours a day, with Tu conducting a fine-needle aspiration clinic to diagnose tumors. Between Tu and the other pathologist on the team, they examined as many as five patients a day in clinic, all patients preoperatively and all the surgical specimens.


"There are no pathologists in Malindi, so the nearest specialist comes from Mombasa, which is two hours away," says Tu. Medical equipment also is in short supply, so Tu and colleague Jeffrey Mueller, a pathologist from the University of Chicago, brought along a donated cyrostat to perform intra-operative frozen section diagnoses.


Tu explains, "There is still a lot of superstition in rural Africa, and many people believe tumors are related to curses. In addition, because few people have the resources to pay for medicine or treatment, most of the tumors we diagnosed were found in extremely advanced stages. That is something we would rarely see in the states.”


The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine allows residents to take four months of electives during their four years of training and often provides supplies for medical missions. For Tu's trip, the department provided pathology slides, gloves and formalin, and the VA Northern California Healthcare System provided formalin biopsy containers.


"Training in underdeveloped or underserved areas around the world provides important real-world experience," says Rajen Ramsamooj, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and residency training director. "Trainees must rely on their own skills and problem-solving in an environment that lacks assays, auxillary tests and other technology that's readily available in the United States. It's a great learning experience."


Lydia Howell, professor and chair of the department, says, "Kali's interest reflects the growing interest in global health among pathologists and clinical laboratorians nationally. We are increasingly a global community, so the health of the world's citizens affects everyone. In addition, with 70 percent of all medical decisions based on laboratory testing, pathologists have considerable impact in reducing health disparities globally, and locally, by making essential lab services available to those in need and ensuring that these services are efficient and effective. These challenges will be even greater for the next generation of U.S. pathologists due to pressure for healthcare reform."


Tu says, "The cases are very difficult, and it can be a challenging environment. It is similar to what we do here, but the environment is certainly not as comfortable. We don't realize how nice it is to have air conditioning, and how problematic it is just to put on gloves in the humidity we experienced. Sometimes the power would go out, or there would be no water and we would have to buy jugs of water to wash our hands."


The experience expanded Tu's understanding of cultural diversity: “Almost all the patients ask for their tissue back when we're finished with it, so we only take a small section. The belief is that if their tissue falls into the wrong hands, someone could put a curse on it.”


While patients were initially suspicious of healthcare providers, eventually the relief provided by the medical team changed many hearts and minds, Tu says. "In my experience, all of the families were extremely grateful. They would come in with big bowls of watermelon or dates, bananas and other produce to thank us for treating their family members."


Howell says, "We are proud that Kali is bringing her expertise to help those who have so much less than most Americans and that she is gaining a unique perspective that will make her an outstanding pathologist, regardless of where she brings her skills.”

Solutions to Your Common Problems
January 4, 2012 12:42 PM by Lynn

What ails you? Not as a patient, but as the leader of a clinical laboratory. Although we’ve just begun 2012, we’re gearing up to present a custom-developed December 2012 digital issue. What do I mean by “custom-developed?” The entire issue will be devoted to topics you request. While it’s never easy to admit where improvements are needed or re-occurring problems escalate to what can be considered insurmountable obstacles, that’s exactly the kind of input we’re looking for. Then, we’ll take the most common problems—as presented by you, our ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory community—and find experts in those areas to offer solutions. Please email me at lnace@advanceweb.com by March 1 and let me know what ails you.

Finalists Vie for $10,000 SLAS Innovation Award
January 3, 2012 7:26 AM by Jill Hoffman

Through research and exploration, scientists are continually finding ways to develop new technologies and address challenges in the laboratory. Recognizing a select group of individuals who have made extraordinary innovative advances, the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) announces the nine finalists who will vie for its $10,000 Innovation Award, the prestigious honor that will be presented to the top candidate at SLAS2012 (Feb. 4-8) in San Diego.

The nine SLAS Innovation Award finalists are:

David Beebe, University of Wisconsin-One-Step Analyte Isolation,

Rosemary Drake,TAP Biosystems, Royston, U.K.-New Platform Technology for Simple, Consistent Production of Collagen Based Tissues for Physiologically Relevant Assays,

Dan Dongeun Huh, Harvard University-A Human Breathing Lung-on-a-Chip for Drug Screening and Nanotoxicology Applications,

Sunghoon Kwon, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea-Partipetting & Spinning Color Barcoded Microparticles for Ultraplex Bio-assay,

Liang Li, SlipChip LLC-SlipChip: High-Throughput Platform for Protein, Crystallization and Molecular Diagnostics,

David Nolte, Purdue University-Tissue Dynamics Imaging for Phenotypic Profiling in Drug Screening,

Aydogan Ozcan, University of California; Los Angeles-Ultra-High Throughput On-Chip Microscopy and Cytometry Using Lensfree Computational Imaging,

Randall Peterson, Massachusetts General Hospital-Automated, In Vivo Screening for Behavior-Modifying Compounds, and

Rajaram Krishnan, Biological Dynamics Inc.-An AC Electrokinetic Device for the Separation and Detection of Cancer Related Nanosomes.

The SLAS Innovation Award recognizes the top SLAS2012 podium presenter who put forth research that demonstrates outstanding innovation and contributes to the exploration of laboratory technologies. The panel of judges that selected these nine finalists based on their submitted abstracts will evaluate each of the finalists' podium presentations at SLAS2012 and then select the overall best presentation as the $10,000 Innovation Award recipient.

"The SLAS Innovation Award honors the work behind that one unique presentation at SLAS2012 that is exceedingly innovative in the exploration of new technologies or advancement of mature technologies," says Jörg Kutter, PhD, SLAS Innovation Award Panel of Judges Chair. "All of our finalists have submitted presentations that will benefit the scientific community, and the panel of judges is looking forward to determining the award recipient at the First Annual SLAS Conference and Exhibition."

The $10,000 Innovation Award recipient will be announced Feb. 8 during the SLAS2012 closing keynote session featuring Robert Ballard, PhD, professor, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, and founder and president, Institute for Exploration at Mystic Aquarium.

In addition to the $10,000 cash prize, the award recipient also receives invitations to become a member of the panel of judges for the following year and to participate on the Annual Conference Program Committee for SLAS2013, a complimentary one-year membership to SLAS, and will have work featured in an issue of JALA and/or JBS.

ASCP Recognizes Medical Lab Professionals Who Excel in School and Life
December 30, 2011 8:13 AM by Jill Hoffman

On land, Hector Becerril Mora has helped homeless veterans obtain food, shelter, clothing and health screenings, as well as raised funds for the "Make a Wish" Tuna Challenge to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. On the sea, Mr. Becerril Mora has taken individuals with disabilities on boat rides during the Silver Gate Yacht Club Wheelchair Regatta, tutored U.S. Navy personnel and spearheaded biohazard disposal for the U.S. Navy. That's in addition to taking courses to become a Medical Laboratory Technician and earning a 3.3 grade point average at the Naval School of Health Sciences, San Diego. Becerril Mora is one of more than 430 medical laboratory students who received the 2011 ASCP National Student Honor Award.

Students who have earned this accolade are more than excellent students; they also excel in leadership and community involvement. By recognizing all three characteristics in student members of ASCP, the National Student Honor Award honors those future laboratory professionals with the most promise for success-academically and professionally. Past recipients have come from different backgrounds, nationalities and ages.

"The ASCP National Student Honor Award helps me to stand out from my peers," says Mora, who will be stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Chatan, Japan, through 2014 unless he is deployed. Already a four-year veteran, Mora does not expect to leave the U.S. Navy anytime soon but said having a career outside of the Navy gives him more flexibility.

Another 2011 National Student Honor Award recipient, Carly A. Cefalu, MLS(ASCP)CM, performed her clinical rotation at Hines Veterans Administration Hospital, Hines, IL, and is working as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) at Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, IL.

"I love the laboratory, especially the blood work, because my work is always changing and always intriguing," says Cefalu, who took the ASCP Board of Certification examination a week after her graduation from Benedictine University, Lisle, IL. "Becoming an MLS is the best decision I've ever made." Cefalu discovered medical laboratory medicine when she worked in the Outpatient Department at Central DuPage Hospital and has never looked back.

A Wisconsin native, Rachel L. McCarty discovered the medical laboratory profession as a student at St. Mary's University, Winona, MN. McCarty's clinical rotation in cytogenetics took place at the Mayo School of Health Sciences, and now she's working as a technologist in Cytogenetics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she analyzes chromosomes for various diseases.

"ASCP is recognized by everyone in my profession," McCarty says. "I was thrilled to receive the ASCP National Student Honor Award and add this honor to my resume."

The 2012 ASCP National Student Honor Award application deadline is March 2, 2012.

ASCP Member Recognized for Cancer Study
December 23, 2011 8:51 AM by Jill Hoffman

The results of a large study following more than 300,000 women at Kaiser Permanente Northern California for five years shows that in most cases cervical cancer screening can be safely extended to at least three years. Co-authored by the ASCP’s Philip E. Castle, PhD, MPH, the study titled “Cervical cancer risk for 330,000 women undergoing concurrent HPV testing and cervical cytology in routine clinical practice” was published in the Clinical Care Advances 2011, an annual report that distinguishes cancer research that has the greatest impact on patient’s lives.


Clinical Care Advances, published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), identifies just 54 significant studies for inclusion in the report designed to fill the gap in cancer literature. Released in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Dec. 5, Clinical Care Advances documents the progress in cancer research and emerging trends in the field.


“The study was the first real-world analysis of adding HPV testing into general screening—a huge undertaking,” Castle says.


Most women receive annual or biannual Pap tests alone. However, the study revealed that the five-year cancer risk for women who had both normal Pap test results and also negative HPV results was very low: 3.2 per 100,000 per year, which means women can safely reduce the number of office visits from once a year to once every three years or even five years with very little risk.


Castle notes that many doctors still encourage women to come back annually even with negative test results, which “wastes millions of dollars in healthcare costs and results in overscreening and possibly unnecessary treatment.”


He says inclusion of the study, which he completed with a team at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, was hugely important because “ASCO is one of the premier professional medical societies in the world and their recognition of this work will disseminate the findings to oncologists.”


Photo of Water Creature Earns First Prize in Olympus Competition
December 13, 2011 7:48 AM by Jill Hoffman

A photo of a curious underwater life form that bears a striking resemblance to a cartoon mouse has earned first prize in the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®, the world’s foremost forum for showcasing microscope photos and movies of life science subjects.

Charles Krebs of Issaquah, WA, captured the fascinating image, which showcases the amazing movements of a rotifer, a tiny underwater creature with cilia that sweep at lightning speed to move food into its mouth. Krebs used a special flash to freeze the cilia’s rapid motion. The photo also shows the microscopic animal’s self-made reddish tube-shaped home, with a building block in the process of being formed inside the rotifer’s body. This stunning depiction, captured using differential interference contrast illumination, was selected from more than 2000 images and movies to earn First Prize and $5,000 worth of Olympus equipment.

Now in its eighth year, the Olympus BioScapes Competition is the world’s premier platform for honoring images and movies of human, plant and animal subjects as captured through light microscopes. Any life science subject is eligible, and entries are judged based on the science they depict, aesthetics and their technical expertise. Photographers can use any brand of equipment. This year, in addition to Prizes 1-10, Honorable Mentions went to 64 images and movies, and one movie earned an award for technical merit. Altogether, 13 videos earned recognition among the winners.

"BioScapes images and movies remind us that our world is endlessly beautiful and fascinating," says Hidenao Tsuchiya, group vice president and general manager, Scientific Equipment Group, Olympus America Inc. "They also open a window to some of the most important and compelling research going on in laboratories around the world. The BioScapes Competition, with entries representing dozens of countries and every field of life science, allows Olympus to bring scientists’ amazing images and stories to the world."

The winners were announced in November at a gala reception in Washington, D.C. A selection of the 2011 winning and Honorable Mention images along with the 13 award-winning videos will be displayed in a museum tour that will visit New York City, upstate New York State, Pennsylvania, suburban Washington D.C., and Chapel Hill, N.C., along with other cities. Simultaneously, other exhibits of winning BioScapes images will tour cities across the U.S., Mexico, South America, Canada and the Middle East throughout 2012. The tour of BioScapes winners is sponsored by OlympusAmerica in cooperation with Scientific American.


Impact of an Election Year
December 7, 2011 2:17 PM by Lynn

Republican, Democratic and Independent candidates have been busy relaying their promises toward a healthier America, with proposals for better health plans/coverage to how to create jobs. I’ll be honest and admit that I have very mixed reviews. In my opinion, no one candidate has all the answers. What I hope is that the parties put aside their differences for a change and really focus on rebuilding our infrastructure, healthcare system, job market and more so we have stronger investments and a brighter long-term outlook for maintaining a healthy America, both literally and figuratively.

What are your thoughts on the presidential candidates? How will the election year impact your professional and personal life?