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Alumni Q&A: Jaclyn Cappel


CappelAbout Jaclyn

Currently: Staff pathologist based out of Williamsport Regional Medical Center, Williamsport, PA

Specialty: Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, and Hematopathology

Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)

Time at URMC: She was a Pathology resident from 2009-2013, then did a one-year hematopathology fellowship from 2013-2014

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Canton, OH, but grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC.

How did you become interested in pathology?

I became interested in pathology during my second year of medical school. At that time, we still had a dedicated Pathology course and the pathology faculty were by far some of the most enthusiastic professors I had. I decided to take a forensics elective early on during my third year, but ended up spending a lot of time in surgical pathology. This lead to additional pathology electives which confirmed that this was the career for me!

In 1 or 2 sentences, describe what you do every day.

Eighty percent of my time is spent reading surgical cases with bone marrows and lymph nodes mixed in there. Cytology and a mix of clinical responsibilities (mostly SPEPs, reading fluids, and phone calls) round out the rest of time.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the medium-sized community setting. I know almost all of the clinicians, which is helpful. We are also the main medical center for much of central PA, so we see a lot of interesting cases.

Tell us about your family.

I have a fantastic husband named Nick and four delightful children; Ben (12), Teddy (9), Charlotte (7) and Julian (5). We have 2 dogs, a hamster, and a fish. We enjoy hiking the myriad trails here in the mountains of PA and trying out new board games when it’s too cold to be outside.

When you look back on your time as a resident/fellow in Rochester, what’s something you remember most or miss about UR?

I miss the camaraderie of my fellow residents and the faculty. I found the atmosphere at U of R while I was there to be very positive. There is something to be said about the way the different pathology specialties and even the different departments throughout the hospital work together to not only provide a very beneficial educational experience but also great patient care. I still often draw upon my experiences at U of R to try and improve protocols or other situations at my job.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Most of my free time is spent doing activities with my family (scouts, soccer, band, chorus, etc.). I’m also a singer, musician and Sunday school teacher at my church.

In your opinion, what is one way to help promote pathology to medical students?

Half the battle is just making the students aware that we exist. Being involved in any way in medical student education helps. It’s up to us to show interest in medical students and provide contact information etc. for anyone who may be interested in learning more. Enthusiasm helps.

What career advice can you give students or trainees interested in your chosen field?

My advice would be to see as much as you possibly can in those few precious years of training! There’s always room to learn/see more – particularly in the gross room, but really in any area of pathology. Unless you end up at a big academic center, you will never have so many knowledgeable PA’s, attendings, fellows, and other staff at your disposal to ask questions and learn from. 

One day it will be you that the staff are coming to with all the questions and you need to be able to draw on as much experience as you can (at least that’s the case in my practice). Obviously there are continuing medical education opportunities, but nothing compares to those residency and fellowship years. Cherish them!

Alumni Q&A: Tara Mahar, M.D.


Dr. MaharDr. Tara Mahar (pictured at right) is the chief medical examiner for the Erie County Department of Health, in Buffalo. She attended medical school at the University and graduated from Pathology residency in 2011. 

In addition to her role as the M.E. she is a clinical assistant professor of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the University of Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine.

We caught up with her to hear more about her career path, her interests, and to see what advice she has to offer anyone interested in pursuing pathology. 

Where are you from originally?

I’m from Rochester! I grew up in East Irondequoit and attended Eastridge High School. My parents and one of my sisters still reside in the Rochester area.

How did you become interested in pathology? Was there a specific person or moment when you knew it was the career for you?

I’m a visual learner, and I find working with my hands very gratifying. I really enjoyed anatomy and histology in medical school, but also loved my surgery rotations. I did a surgical internship after graduation, and quickly discovered that I was very interested in the surgical specimens and the intraoperative consultations.

I ultimately found that pathology – and specifically forensic pathology – played to some of my strengths as a learner, and best integrated my desire for hands-on work with my thirst for additional medical knowledge. Forensic pathology enjoys relative freedom from some of the limitations placed on the practice of medicine by our system of health care, and that also helped with my career decision-making.

In 1 or 2 sentences, describe what you do every day.

I work with an awesome group of people to investigate non-natural deaths in Erie and surrounding counties. A large part of my job involves doing autopsies.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love being able to provide answers for people – whether it be a grieving family, a treating physician, the police, a district attorney, etc. I also enjoy educating others, such as medical trainees, families of the deceased and members of a jury. Medical examiners have an important role in public health, as well.

I love that every day at work is different, and that there are always new things for me to learn. I’m also fortunate to enjoy the people that I work with.

Are you working on any research – now or in the near future? What special research interests do you have?

Not really. I hope to have the time to do so once my office has a full physician staff. In the meantime, the docs at my office have tried to share the new things we’ve learned by presenting at national meetings.

I have a number of interests, many of them with an eye towards public health. I would love to research effective ways to further decrease unsafe sleep-related deaths in infancy. I also have an interest in sudden unexplained death in the young, and would love to see genetic testing become more widely available.

Tell us about your family. Do you have a spouse, kids, pets?

Yes, my significant other and I have an 18 month old son and a cat. My significant other is a retired detective and a stay-at-home dad. He’d probably tell you that the dad gig is harder!

I’m close with my parents and my two sisters, even though I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.

When you look back on your time as both a medical student and resident in Rochester, what’s something you remember most or miss about UR?

The people! I made some lifelong friends at the UR, particularly during residency. Although we live in different parts of the country now, we still keep in touch. I also miss and fondly remember some of the faculty. Although there were many great faculty, Drs. Hicks and Johnson immediately come to mind.

How do you like to spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Free time? What’s that? In all seriousness, what I enjoy most is spending any free time with my family. Other interests include cooking, gardening, travel and small home improvement projects.

In your opinion, what is one way to help promote pathology to medical students?

The first, second and third ways are all exposure. There’s very little exposure to what pathologists actually do during medical school, largely because there are no required rotations. This results in, I believe, a lot of confusion and misconceptions about pathology on the part of students.

What career advice can you give students or trainees interested in your chosen field?

The trend in pathology education seems to be the completion of at least one (and often more than one!) fellowship. Do your research early. Many of the best fellowships fill quickly and/or require an “audition” rotation of sorts.

Alumni Gift to Fund New Pediatric Pathology Fellowship at URMC


A $1 million gift from Milton J. Finegold, M.D., an alumnus of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, will support a new pediatric pathology fellowship.

URMC looks forward to enrolling its first ever pediatric pathology fellow in the fall of 2020.

“Having a fellowship in our institution may help to retain some of our own residents who are interested in this subspecialty,” said Philip Katzman, M.D., a pediatric pathologist at URMC. “The presence of a fellowship program also helps with providing more teaching opportunities in the medical school and in clinical services that the pediatric pathology subspecialty serves,” he said. 

Dr. Milton FinegoldFinegold (pictured at right) is a native of New York City. He attended URSMD from 1955-60, during which he completed medical school and a year-out student fellowship. He went on to have a long and successful career as a pediatric pathologist. He is now Professor Emeritus of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine.

His original intention as a trainee was to become a hand surgeon. When he decided surgery wasn’t for him, he was thankful to receive mentorship from UR Pathology faculty, especially from the late chairman, Dr. Lowell Orbison.

Over the course of his training, he developed a passion for learning about how children become ill and how to determine what causes these illnesses.

While at NYU and then Baylor, he served as the director of a pediatric pathology fellowship. Looking back to his own days as a student and fellow, Finegold says that sponsoring this educational opportunity is one way he wants to give back.

“Like anybody in academic medicine, your greatest satisfaction is getting to see the progress of your students,” said Finegold. “It’s wonderful to witness what they become and what they do.”

He noted that pathology is generally low on the list of attractive areas of study, especially for medical students. Pediatric pathology is an even rarer program, forced to compete with more popular subspecialties like forensic pathology or surgical and neuropathology.   

“In order to get people interested in pediatric pathology you want to generate an opportunity in the area of children’s disease, and you have to do whatever you can to make it attractive,” said Finegold.

Bruce Smoller, M.D., chairman of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at URMC, said the gift will expand the department’s offerings for potential trainees.

“This prestigious new fellowship opportunity enhances the range of training opportunities that our department provides, increasing our national visibility and improving what is already a very strong educational program,” said Smoller.

Dr. Finegold lives in Houston with his wife, Jan Goddard-Finegold, MD, and their dachshund, Trixie. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Meet Former Hematopathology Fellow, Dr. Abraham Loo


Dr. LooDr. Abraham Loo is a practicing surgical pathologist/hematopathologist at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. He was a fellow in Hematopathology at URMC from 2014-15. Here, he shares more about his career and what makes his work rewarding. 

Residency: AP and CP from Madigan Army Medical Center

Fellowship: Hematopathology, URMC (2014-15)

Medical School: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in NYC. After medical school, I went active duty in the United States Army and lived out west for eight years before returning to the east coast to do a Hematopathology fellowship. I currently live in Red Bank, NJ.

What was something that made your experience at URMC a positive one?

I really enjoyed my time as a fellow and I left feeling well prepared to sign out heme path cases. I am grateful to have met many wonderful people as well. Dr. Richard Burack was a supportive fellowship director, Pat Leary was a patient teacher of flow cytometry, and Leslie Antinarella was always a kind person in the department. After finishing residency, I did not feel prepared to work with residents, but as a fellow with prior experience as a staff pathologist I enjoyed working with the residents (Sapna, Nisha, Chad, Hani, et al) that rotated through. 

When did you first “discover” pathology and what or whom first sparked your interest in it?

I had limited exposure to pathology in medical school and I cannot remember when exactly I “discovered” pathology, but I can say I genuinely enjoy my job. There are good days and bad days, but I enjoy doing impactful work that uses my education and can positively affect people’s lives while keeping me divorced from the emotional aspect of medicine.

How would you describe your job to someone who knows nothing about pathology?

After a biopsy is performed, the tissue (breast, prostate, etc.) is processed and read under a microscope by a doctor, who is the pathologist. The pathologist renders a diagnosis to the clinicians, who directly take care of the patient.  If a clinician is concerned for blood cancer (leukemia or lymphoma), I am the pathologist in my practice that looks at those specimens.

Tell us about your family. 

I have two wonderful daughters, Calista (7 years old) and Naomi (5 years old), who are my everything.

How do you like to spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies/interests?

I have been practicing Brazilian Jiujitsu/No-Gi grappling since 2006. There are few things as pure as a combat sport, and there aren’t many venues where people from all walks of society can share space engaged in a physical struggle, yet not have any social, political or personal conflicts.

What’s one piece of advice you have for pathology students or trainees looking to start their careers?

Have long term goals in your professional and personal life, but there will be unexpected twists and turns. Don’t neglect your soul on the journey.  

Alumni Q&A: Bronwyn Bryant, M.D. Practicing Pathology at U. Vermont


Dr. BryantDr. Bronwyn Bryant is one of the many UR School of Medicine and Dentistry graduates making their mark in the field of pathology.

She graduated UR with her medical degree in 2011 and went on to do her pathology residency at the University of Washington. Later, she completed two fellowships in gynecologic pathology and surgical pathology, respectively, at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Bryant is now assistant professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (specializing in gyn.) and associate program director of the pathology residency program at the University of Vermont, where she began working in August 2017.

Here, she shares more about how she entered the field and what inspires her to this day.

Does your current role allow you to do research, and if so, what are you currently working on?

My academic interests are focused on medical education. I’m currently looking at feedback and evaluation methods for our residents in their surgical pathology rotation by utilizing entrustable professional activities (EPAs).

What first sparked your interest in pathology?

Before starting medical school, I worked as a research assistant for a pathologist (Dr. Kim Boekelheide) at Brown University. I spent a lot of time in front of a microscope at this job. I enjoyed learning bits of morphology, and knew I would enjoy a career with so much microscope work. 

I entered medical school thinking about pathology. I loved histology labs and helping my fellow classmates see the morphology. During my first two years of medical school, I attended the weekly autopsy case review whenever I could.

I tried to keep an open mind going into my clerkships, but after a surgical pathology elective in my third year, I was 100 percent sure I wanted to be a pathologist.

When you look back on your time here at URSMD, is there a particular person or experience that made a particular impact on you?

I remember Dr. Linda Schiffhauer presenting at the beginning of our second year Disease Processes and Therapeutics course. She was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up to be a doctor. I quickly sought her out as a mentor to help shape my career towards academic practice and education. 

I always knew I wanted to teach, and my experience in the Medical Education Pathway at UR gave me my first taste of education theory and training, which I’ve been developing and building on ever since.

How do you like to spend your free time outside of work?

Gardening, hiking and cross-country skiing, knitting, and cooking.

Tell us about your family.  

I adopted a mutt named Nutmeg (named after nutmeg liver) during my last year in residency, and she is pure mischief and snuggles. When we moved to Michigan, she found my wonderful boyfriend, John, who is now finishing his Pathology residency at the University of Michigan.  

What advice would you give up-and-coming pathology trainees looking to start their careers?

Keep an eye out for doors that open for you, as you’ll never know what opportunities may come your way, where they may lead, and what you may learn from them.

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