Some pathologists find themselves torn between research and clinical practice, but Dr. Jiaoti Huang, MD, PhD isn't one of them.
“If things work well, you don’t have to spend a lot of effort balancing the work,” he said. “For me, the more clinical work I do the more problems and issues that I discover for my research.”
Huang joined the URMC Pathology faculty as an assistant professor in 2000 and was promoted to full professor in 2007. He left in 2008 to work at UCLA until making the move to Duke University, where he was named Pathology Department chair in January 2016.
Since then, he has continued to thrive, receiving, the Synergistic Idea Award from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program in February.
His successful career has led Dr. Huang to become an authority on prostate cancer research. His most recent breakthrough began when he observed that advanced-stage patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma were inexplicably seeing their cancer transform to small cell carcinoma – an incurable and rapidly progressing form.
Supported by two active grants including a Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team Award, he worked with a team that performed 250 biopsies of metastatic prostate cancer that has been heavily treated with conventional and newer drugs.
From there, he discovered novel histologic features of metastatic prostate cancer and the molecular mechanism responsible for the transformation from a relatively indolent to a very aggressive form. Knowing more about the molecular basis of this phenomenon can now help physicians develop better treatment plans for their patients.
The results of the project were used to apply for a new R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute which started July 1. None of this would have been possible without working in a clinical setting, Huang says.
“This project was born from my clinical practice," he said. "If that is the basis of your research, your clinical activity does not really interfere."
He has received teaching awards at both URMC and UCLA and has seven grants that are currently active, including three from the National Cancer Institute. Huang attributes much of his success to the support and encouragement he received early on from former colleagues in Rochester (notably, Drs. Daniel Ryan and Brendan Boyce).
“The Pathology Department at the University of Rochester creates a conducive environment for junior faculty to go on with their academic careers,” he said.
Now Dr. Huang is looking to bring that same culture to his a much larger institution, understanding the need to support young, incoming faculty rather than “throwing them into the swimming pool” and expecting them to survive.
Outside of work, he enjoys exercise, cuisine, and travel. He's gone to several Duke basketball games and has even met the legendary Coach K. He describes the experience of seeing the team's championship trophies, photos and memorabilia as “mesmerizing.”
He and his wife, Hong, have two children – Kevin, who is a freshman studying mathematics at Duke, and Katherine, a Harvard graduate who works in finance in New York City.
Dr. David Hicks, director of Surgical Pathology at URMC, is a lead editor for the new online pathology educational tool, PATHPrimer (Elsevier, 2016).
PATHPrimer is a web-based pathology curriculum that contains anatomic pathology learning modules and assessments.
Others from URMC Pathology also contributed – Drs. Bruce Smoller and Linda Schiffhauer served as leads for the Dermatopathology and Breast Pathology sections.
In the clinical pathology modules, Dr. Victoria Zhang led sections on the Toxicology, Body Fluids and Special Techniques with collaboration from Dr. Sapna Patel.
Past URMC faculty members, Drs. Gabrielle Yeaney (Neuropathology) and Rochelle Simon (Gynecology) were also recruited to write content.
Breast Book; Second Edition
Earlier this year, Dr. David Hicks finished the second edition of “Diagnostic Pathology: Breast” (Elsevier, 2016) which he co-authored with fellow breast pathologist Dr. Susan C. Lester of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Hicks and Lester released the first edition in 2012 in an effort to provide “real-time diagnostic support” for pathologists in diagnosing and developing treatment for breast cancer patients.
The second book has taken nearly four years to complete. In addition to print copies, the second book has an interactive e-edition. Many of the high quality images were taken by pathologist assistants at URMC.
Four URMC researchers who received a U.S. patent for their innovative method of predicting the risk of recurrent heart attacks are eager to see their work brought to clinics, hospitals, and physicians’ offices around the world.
In 2015, the University of Rochester was granted a patent based on the work of James Corsetti, M.D., Ph.D., Charles Sparks, M.D., Daniel Ryan M.D., and Arthur Moss, M.D. The patent details a graphical exploratory data analysis tool called “outcome event mapping”, or OEM, as an approach for identifying subgroups of individuals at high or low risk for a medical outcome.
OEM has been applied to identify heart attack patients at increased risk for further heart attacks. In this example, the method graphically illustrates risk over levels of two biomarkers of heart health: HDL (“the good”) cholesterol, and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation.
The graph at right delineates combinations of the two marker levels associated with high-risk patient subgroups (peaks) and low-risk patient subgroups (valleys).
In this example, the OEM approach has been extended to treat genetic data with the figure presenting OEMs for two states of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that show a well-defined, high-risk subgroup for one of the SNP states and virtually no risk for the other SNP state. OEM can therefore be used to predict whether patients who have already suffered heart attacks are at higher risk for a repeat occurrence.
The team of researchers behind the patent has been collaborating since the late 1990s to come up with new approaches to identify high risk populations. They believe this method has the potential to help physicians improve personalized patient care.
UR Ventures, the technology transfer operation at the University of Rochester, is actively seeking an industrial partner who can make this diagnostic tool available to healthcare providers.
To learn more about licensing OEM, contact Matan Rapoport at UR Ventures.
While many teenagers are spending their summer riding bikes or going to the beach, students in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Pathology IT Group can be found learning gross anatomy in the morgue, studying histology in the library, or huddled over a microscope together discussing a possible diagnosis.
In my eight weeks at Strong Memorial Hospital, I was able to explore medicine and pathology at a level that is a privilege rarely granted to college undergraduates. I spent my days among Pathology attendings, residents, and medical students, and was fortunate enough to be welcomed as a part of the Pathology team.
Not only was I able to observe medical students on their Pathology rotation, but I also saw the director of Autopsy testify on a homicide case in court. I went to weekly conferences with residents and attendings, watched an autopsy, and learned how to read pathology reports. I learned about how patient diagnoses are made and became personally involved in research on Lynch Syndrome. Furthermore, I got to shadow in general surgery and explore other paths within the medical field.
This program challenged me and my fellow students to grow both intellectually and emotionally. At first, it seemed daunting to learn about the histology of the human body and medical terminology used to diagnose things like a “tubular adenoma” or “sessile serrated polyp.” However, we made rapid progress so that, by the end of the summer, our confidence grew. We experienced both the power and pitfalls of medicine as we learned to discuss an emotionally-charged autopsy and consider the needs of patients that go beyond their medical conditions. Gradually, we learned more about the emotional maturity necessary to handle these challenges – and this was illuminating.
Under the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Jennifer Findeis-Hosey, each member of the Pathology IT Group was able to tailor the experience to his or her own personal interests and ambitions. I emerged from my own experience better prepared for medical school, even more motivated for my sophomore year at Cornell. This experience gave me a strong desire to give back to the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the medical community, and to pay forward the mentorship that I have received.
About the Author:
Elena Gupta is a rising sophomore at Cornell University. She is one of more than a dozen high school and undergraduate students enrolled in the Pathology IT Program at URMC.
Dr. Richard Burack, director of Hematopathology, together with Dr. Tim Mosmann of the Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, has received a $50,000 pilot grant from Wilmot Cancer Institute.
The investigators will use the funding to develop multiple research collaborations to investigate the role of immune-senescence in lymphomagenesis, the role of immune microenvironment in determining response to therapy, and the role of immune function in the symptoms of lymphoma via analysis of rare immune cell populations by advanced flow cytometry.
The proposal was one of two winners in the latest round of Wilmot Pilot Awards for cancer research, announced in July. There were seven applicants in total.
According to research director Hucky Land, Ph.D, the awards went to the projects that the reviewers thought had the most potential to develop into Program Project Grants (P01) from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Wilmot’s goal is to obtain several P01s in the coming years.
- Courtesy of Wilmot Cancer Institute