Hometown: Uniontown, OH. Now lives in Buffalo, NY.
Family: Wife, Bonnie McMichael, and three daughters, Lorna (20), Rebecca (18) and Kathryn (15)
Pathology Residency at URMC: 1991-1995
Education: Completed a six-year BS/MD program at Kent State University and Northeast Ohio Medical University. He then spent two years doing antiviral research.
Current Role: Laboratory Director at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, Laboratory Director at the Center for Laboratory Medicine in Williamsville, and Director of the Transfusion Service at Kaleida Health. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
What first inspired you to get into pathology?
My medical school had three pathologists that were role models and teachers (Ray Clarke, Howard Igel and Robert Novak). They were able to show how the pathology department made a difference to all clinicians and patients, and I could see that they practiced pathology in a way that crossed between different medical specialties.
How would you describe your job to someone who’s never heard of it before?
If a clinician has a question that can be answered with a test, my job is to make that diagnosis or arrange for it to get done. I am often presented with troubleshooting missions – things that went wrong in testing or workflow. I think I do this well, but those projects are challenging because I need to understand what was supposed to happen, what appears to have gone wrong, and how to quickly investigate to confirm and correct the problem.
What does your daily work consist of?
I get to practice both anatomic and clinical pathology across four hospitals in the Buffalo area. Over time, I have had responsibilities and leadership roles at all of them. I got my job originally because I was willing to cover the transfusion service as well as general anatomic pathology. Over time, I’ve been given opportunities to practice Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Medical Informatics. The training I had in residency prepared me to help my partners cover areas that they weren’t as comfortable with, so I see something interesting every day.
What advice would you give to pathology residents?
Spend time getting to know your fellow residents. The time you spend helping each other makes the residency more pleasant and the studying easier. In the longer term, your fellow residents will become a network of friends and references. A senior resident linked me to the job I have today, and his guidance on what to expect as a junior attending helped me avoid early problems.
How do you like to spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies or interests?
My children are convinced that I spend my free time deleting spam. When it’s quiet, I spend my free time reading (mystery and science fiction) and running (distance running, but slow).
The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine hosted its annual Research Day event on Monday, June 12, 2017.
The day-long event featured a wide variety of oral and poster presentations by Pathology graduate students and residents on research topics ranging from osteoarthritis, to lymphoma, pregnancy, and much more.
Perry J. Blackshear, MD, D. Phil, gave the keynote address. He is the Deputy Chief of Signal Transduction Laboratory and Head of the Post-Transcriptional Gene Expression Group for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
An awards dinner followed the event, in which faculty recognized top presentations and gave a special sendoff to departing residents and fellows. Pathology Chair, Dr. Bruce Smoller, also gave two special awards to faculty.
Graduate Program Awards
- Outstanding academic Excellence by a First Year Student - Olivia Marola
- Outstanding Contribution to the Pathology PhD Program - Richard Bell
- Richard Bell
- Jerry Saunders III
- Zachary Murphy
- Brianna Shares
- Third place - Hani Katerji, MD
- Second place - Sohaib Abu-Farsakh, MD
- First place - Sachica Cheris, MD
- Eric A. Schenk Award for Excellence in Teaching - Luis De Las Casas, MD
- Chairman's Award - Caroline Dignan, MD
View a photo gallery of Research Day
Download list of presentations
Second-year Pathology graduate student Madison Doolittle won second place in the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s graduate student poster competition on May 17.
The annual event, hosted by the Graduate Student Society, includes entries from graduate students across disciplines as an opportunity to showcase their research in their respective fields.
Madison was the lead author the abstract titled, “Investigating the Role of Zbtb40 in the Genetic Regulation of Osteoporosis” in which he and fellow researchers examined the genetic determinants of bone mineral density used to diagnose osteoporosis.
He was awarded a $300 travel scholarship.
Karen de Mesy Bentley (formerly Jensen), M.S., director of the Electron Microscopy Shared Resource Laboratory and faculty associate in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has discovered something new about the behavior of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and why it may resist antibiotic treatment and recur in patients who have had a hip or joint implant.
Bentley is the lead author in an NIH funded study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (May 2017) where she utilized transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to examine the bones of mice with implant associated S. aureus chronic osteomyelitis.
While examining sections of bone under TEM high magnification, Bentley discovered that some bacteria were able to change shape and squeeze into submicron spaces which are called canaliculi. Her study describes round bacteria becoming rod-shaped to accommodate the submicron diameter space of canaliculi. The bacteria are then protected from treatment with traditional antibiotics delivered via blood vessels.
“When I saw this, I was shocked,” said Bentley. “Staph has never been described as being able to deform. It’s always been described as round, one micron in diameter to grow in clusters like grapes on a vine.”
Soon after documenting this bizarre shape shifting behavior in a mouse model, Bentley initiated studies on human S. aureus infected bone specimens and in December of 2016, discovered the same bacterial phenomenon occurs in human bone.
The initial findings explain, among other things, why a staph infection in humans may return despite weeks or months of antibiotic treatments and bone debridement when replacing an infected implant. It also explains why infections can recur, sometime years – even decades – later, after going undetected in the patient.
Bentley will soon be a co-investigator in a P50 NIH-funded grant working with the principal investigator, Edward Schwarz, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research and his team to continue studies on human S. aureus chronic osteomyelitis specimens.
“If we can identify a gene that allows S. aureus to shift into rod shaped bacteria, then maybe we can develop a drug to prevent invasion of osteocyte canaliculi and also recurrence,” she said.
What can green lizards and “dark matter” teach us about cancer?
First a bit about genomic dark matter: It refers to DNA sequences that make up a large part of the human genome but do not encode proteins, some of which are known as IncRNAs. They play a role in tissue development, tumor formation, and cancer progression—but many key questions remain about dark matter and IncRNAs.
University of Rochester Medical Center scientist Bin Zhang, Ph.D., and a team of researchers discovered how IncRNAs function and evolve in the genomes of green lizards. Their work is published in Cell Reports, in collaboration with scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, N.Y., where Zhang worked before joining URMC in 2015.
One particular IncRNA—MALAT1 (Metastasis-Associated Lung Adenocarcinoma Transcript 1)—was first associated with lung cancers that were likely to spread and later found to be over-abundant in many other tumor types. The MALAT1 gene contains a unique tail structure that stabilizes the RNA molecule. Zhang’s team pioneered a series of computer models and algorithms allowing them to turn the tail structure into a searchable module. They discovered a class of 130 different vertebrate IncRNAs with similar structures to MALAT1, and then further conducted evolutionary studies into the activity of the IncRNAs in green lizards. The National Cancer Institute and National Institute of General Medical Sciences funded the study.
An assistant professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics, Zhang also specializes in clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics. He conducts detailed genetic tests and evaluates blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and other tissues for cancer.