Name: Krisztina Hanley, M.D.
Hometown: Originally from Hungary and now lives in Decatur, Georgia
Family: Husband, Jim, and daughters, Aideen, 6, and Maeve, 3
Occupation: Assistant professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, medical director of macroscopy and gross rooms, Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital at Midtown, rotation director of Gynecologic Pathology, Emory University Hospital.
Education: M.D. from University of Pecs in Hungary (2001), AP/CP residency at University of Rochester Medical Center (2003-2007), Cytopathology Fellow; Emory University School of Medicine (2007-2008), Gynecologic Pathology Fellow; University of Virginia (2008-2009).
Current research: A phase II clinical trial examining an agent that targets folate receptor alpha. She is also working with residents on a project that’s looking at certain pathways that might be connected to a certain pattern of invasion in endometrial cancer. Finally, she is researching a marker called OTP that can distinguish pulmonary versus non-pulmonary well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors.
What first brought you to the U.S?
My husband is from Rochester and we met when I was still in medical school (in Hungary). It was a long-distance relationship. We wanted to live in same city so that’s what brought me to Rochester. We got married when I was a first-year resident in 2003.
Now you work at Emory in Atlanta, GA, where you completed a fellowship after residency. What aspects of that program made it attractive to you?
At Emory, the cytology fellowship is unique because we see a lot of patients. We have a clinic where we do fine needle aspirations. We perform the FNA ourselves, look at it, and talk to the patient. Sometimes we tell them the results right away. It’s very unique that as pathologist we actually see patients.
A lot of people think pathologists just sit in their office and look at slides or do autopsies in the basement. We actually do see patients. Also, the FNA clinic is in the cancer center (Winship Cancer Institute) which gives us the chance to have a very close relationship with the clinicians, the oncologists.
When you reflect on your time as a resident, what do you think has prepared you most for your career?
In retrospect, there are things I am glad I did even though I may not have liked them at the time. For example, in the gross room we were really busy with gross specimens. I remember very heavy days that made me miserable! I’m glad because even now after many years, I can still handle most of the specimens without any problems. I became very efficient. That’s also true with autopsies. We had a lot of autopsies at UR compared to other programs, and I think that really helped me get through things even when it gets really busy. I don’t freak out anymore.
For frozen sections it was the same way. We used to cut our own sections at UR. At Emory, they have a lot of help from PAs. I’ve been out of training for seven years now and I don’t have a problem cutting a frozen section. This is huge because when residents aren’t available or we have multiple frozen sections in the same time, I can help out.
Did you have any mentors during your time at URMC?
A few people had a major impact on me and the way I approach things: Dr. Thomas Bonfiglio who is retired, Dr. Ellen Giampoli, and Dr. James Powers. From a clinical pathology (CP) side, there was Dr. Marilyn Menegus, Dr. Neil Blumberg, and Nedda Howk from the Blood Bank. I don’t do hematopathology but I can thank (the late) Dr. Ray Felgar and Dr. Arnaldo Arbini for everything I know in hematopathology. The cytotechnologists at UR are outstanding. They are very engaged in resident education. Michael Facik, Donna Russell, and Mary Ann Rutkowski had major impact in my training in cytopathology and fellowship choice.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love to bake. I cut back on that because my husband and I end up having to eat everything or it goes to waste, since my kids may or may not like what I bake. I started running after my older daughter was born. In Georgia you can run or hike outdoors pretty much the whole year, so we have hiking sticks for the girls and try to spend as much time outdoors as we can.
What do you think it’s going to take to draw more young people to the field of pathology?
I think they need to get early exposure. Exposure in medical school is very limited and there’s a lack of understanding for what pathologists actually do. So, we need to reach out to medical students and allow them to have hand on experience in our department. This could be sign out, gross room activities, participate in frozen sections, attend tumor boards and come to FNA clinic. Most people, including physicians from other specialties, have no idea how diverse and complex the work of a pathologist is.