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Meet the Lab at Ridgeland Road


UR Medicine Labs is a large operation with many moving parts. From phlebotomists who draw blood at patient clinics across Monroe, Genesee, and Livingston counties to couriers who transport the specimens to locations where testing is performed.

Chemistry LabMore than half of these outpatient specimens are sent to the outpatient (OP) laboratory on Ridgeland Road in Henrietta.

Much of the building is leased by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and also houses the Microarray Lab, Clinical Trials, Lab Outreach, Client Services, and Courier Services.

The OP lab has a staff of 12 who run tests six days a week. While a large portion of outpatient tests for UR Medicine Labs are performed there, the lab can sometimes go unnoticed due to its location, says lab manager, Liz Peterdy.  

“I think people are surprised to know how much we do and that we have the large equipment that they have at the main lab (at Strong Memorial Hospital),” she said.

Besides the chemistry and hematology areas, the lab at Ridgeland has a fully staffed specimen management and reference lab.

Pathology first began leasing space in the building in 2008. The following year, a lab was set up to allow for testing of clinical trials specimens. More equipment was added to accommodate outpatient testing, and volume has continued to grow ever since.

Today, the lab at Ridgeland tackles a wide scope of work. There are a combined 4 million clinical trials and outpatient tests performed there every year. 

Helping Build Something

Clinical trials specimens come from patients participating in a variety of trials for new or experimental treatments.

These specimens are received from across the U.S. and beyond, and their results will be used for the development of treatments for anything from Parkinson’s disease to infertility, or certain types of cancer.

“The CT samples are definitely unique to this lab,” said assistant lab supervisor, Jason Thomas. “The majority of our work is outpatient, but the CTs are interwoven with those clinical samples, which make very unique challenges,” he said. “We have interactions not just with the samples, but with the CT team.”

Heme LabThis means assisting with outside audits that ensure the lab is compliant with regulations for clinical trials testing. Each step of the process, from the time the specimens arrive to when their results are reported, is calculated with great care. 

“With all of that, we look at the structure of everything we do and scrutinize our processes – more, I think, than other labs do,” said Thomas.

From a lab perspective, it’s often gratifying to know that you’re playing an important role in helping patients.

“We get a lot of feedback from our clinical trials team and a lot of satisfaction from seeing the results used in the studies when they go on for FDA submission,” said Peterdy. “It’s really rewarding to see that you are helping them build something.”

The lab’s days at Ridgeland Road are numbered as the department prepares to move all of its operations to Bailey Road. The first phase of the relocation project is breaking ground in October 2017 and the Ridgeland team is slated to move into the space by early 2019.

Being the “first” lab at Bailey will be an adjustment as it moves into a larger space adjacent to other testing areas, but is expected to improve communication and workflow as labs come under one roof.

Kelly Brewer is a technical specialist who works at Ridgeland’s chemistry lab. She said she likes the current location because it allows her to do a variety of things.

“I get to work Chemistry, Hematology, and it’s a small enough group that we all get along,” she said. “We’re like our own little family.”

Brewer said she looks forward to relocating, though it will mean changing the way things are now.

“It’s going to be different, but I think it’ll be good,” she said.

In Photos: 

Top: Liz Jackson, MT, tracks samples at the Chemistry Laboratory. 

Above: Erika De Almeida, MT, reads blood specimen tubes in the Hematology Lab at Ridgeland Road.

Pathology Employee Leads Hurricane Relief Effort for Dominica


Collection barrelAn employee from the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine has started a charity drive to collect items to help the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Julia Polidore (pictured at right) is a native of Dominica, a small, independent country in the northeastern Caribbean. Her parents were among those affected by the destructive hurricane early last week.   

Polidore has worked in Histopathology for 13 years and is currently a student at the Warner School of Education pursuing her doctorate degree in Education and Human Development.

She explained that Dominica already has a shaky economic infrastructure and widespread poverty.

Her parents pastor two churches that will distribute any donated goods they receive to the local villages.

“Because there is limited access to goods and resources, it’s more than likely that the villages are going to depend on the churches for help,” said Polidore.

She thanked those participating in the collection effort and said it will make a real impact on those in need.

“For me, this is very faith-driven,” she said. “It exemplifies what it means to be the hands and feet to help those who can’t help themselves.

There are five collection barrels where you may drop off any donated items from the list below. Donations will be accepted until Friday, October 13.

Where to Donate

Collection barrels are placed at the following UR Medicine Labs locations:

  • Microbiology, Rm. 2-6431 (autoclave room)
  • Lab Administration, Suite 2-2100 (break room)
  • G-1500 Suite (break room)
  • Surgical Pathology, Suite G-5204 (main lobby)
  • 77 Ridgeland Road (main lobby)

Preferred Donations

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Canned goods & can opener
  • Dry beans, rice, flour, sugar
  • Garden/agriculture seeds
  • Paper products and plastic eating utensils
  • Toiletries (especially sanitary napkins, soap)
  • Blankets
  • Baby items (diapers, formula)
  • Flashlight & batteries
  • First aid kits
  • Clothing (undergarments, all sizes)

How to Give Online

Click here to visit the YouCaring page and support this effort. 

More Information

For questions or to find out how to make a monetary donation, email


Explaining Common Laboratory Reference Changes in Pregnancy


Drs. Alexandra Danakas (PGY-2) and Tamera Paczos have co-authored an article that has been published in an online continuing education OB/GYN curriculum produced by the University.

Pregnant motherThe article entitled Understanding Basic Maternal and Fetal Laboratory Measures was published in Perifacts on October 1. It describes the specific ways in which changes in physiology in pregnant patients can yield laboratory reference values that may seem abnormal in patients who are not pregnant.

These differences can sometimes be misinterpreted by physicians who use them to diagnose a disease outside of pregnancy. Physicians can be better equipped to manage such patients by better understanding the ways in which fluctuations in hormones and changes to maternal physiology affect the major organ systems.

The article includes a chart listing some of the most common reference ranges, comparing a non-pregnant patient with patients in their first, second, or third trimester.

Clinical Labs Welcome First Class of Rising Med Techs


MT classOn Monday, Aug. 28 UR Medicine Labs and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine were pleased to welcome 12 new graduate students who are taking the first step toward a professional laboratory career.

The program is sponsored in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The class of 2018 is the first group to complete all of their training at the University of Rochester.

After passing a state licensure exam in the spring, those who complete the 2-semester program will be qualified to work as certified Clinical Laboratory Technologists, commonly referred to as medical technologists or “med techs.”

Many of the trainees have bachelor’s degrees in biology or related scientific field. They come from area colleges including SUNY Brockport, RIT, UR, SUNY Geneseo, University of Buffalo, and St. John Fisher College.

Cheryl Gardner is one of the students who, like many of her classmates, is going back to school after her career path took some unexpected turns. She was laid off from her software job in 2015 and decided to use the opportunity to finish her bachelor’s degree in biology.

After graduating, however, she soon learned that many jobs in her chosen area of study required advanced degrees or job experience. She then learned about the new program at URMC – which thankfully offered both. For her, the prospect of having a license to practice in the clinical laboratory offered the chance to finally have a stable future.

“This is my fourth career,” said Gardner. “I have worn many hats, but I look forward to spending the rest of my career in a lab.”

The U of R Clinical Laboratory Technology program has a comprehensive curriculum including both classroom education and real world practical lab experience.

Since 2006, it has been more difficult for clinical laboratories across New York State to fill vacancies due to changing requirements. Instead of just needing a bachelor’s degree in an applicable major, employees were required to have 1-2 years’ worth of additional education and pass a certification exam.

The med tech program offers the opportunity to become certified and land a job fairly soon, said Scott Kirkley, M.D., Vice Chair of Pathology Education.  

He explained that having just a biology or biotechnology degree does not guarantee that you’ll find a job in the medical field.

“Not everyone goes on to get a PhD or goes to med school, so we need alternatives.” said Kirkley. “This job (as a medical technologist) is in demand and it is a satisfying career with many opportunities for advancement."

Read more about the program here: UR to Launch New Clinical/Medical Technology Program

Alumni Q&A: Former UR Pathology Resident, Bing Ren, M.D., Ph.D.


Bing RenCurrent institution: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Lives in: Hanover, NH
Family: Husband, Raymond, son, Michael, and daughter, Joycelyn
Originally from: Tianjin, China. She came to the U.S. to pursue her Ph.D. in microbiology
Specialties: Gastrointestinal, liver and pancreatic pathology, genitourinary pathology
MD: West China University of Medical Sciences (1995),
PhD: University of Alabama (2003)
AP/CP Residency: University of Rochester (2010-2014)
Fellowships: Surgical and Oncologic Pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Gastrointestinal and liver Pathology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

How did you first become interested in pathology?
My interest in pathology started in medical school when I took histology and pathology courses. With a basic and translational research background, I know pathology is the right choice for me because it allows me to work on both basic and molecular mechanism and clinical management of diseases.

What kind of research are you interested in? 
My research is focused on the gastrointestinal and pancreatic pathology, especially in colon cancer.

How would you describe your job to someone who’s never heard of it before?
I examine human tissue under a microscope to tell whether it is normal or abnormal. If it is abnormal, I diagnose and interpret the pathologic changes and underlying causes.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to pathology students or trainees?
A good pathologist does not only issue correct diagnoses. As pathologists, our role is to help clinicians treat and manage patients. It's important to be aware of how your diagnosis will affect treatment. Communicating with clinicians and frequently attending the tumor board conferences will help you stay up to date on current clinical practice.

How do you like to spend your free time? 
Hanover has plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. I like hiking, biking, swimming and skiing with my family. I also enjoying reading and cooking with my children.

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