“The most important part for me is sharing what I have learned with young people who are now learning the field, be they residents, fellows or medical students.” – Anthony Yachnis, MD
My road to pathology was very circuitous. From an early age, I was interested in understanding why people become ill, but more than that I wanted to be in a position where I could do something about it. That’s why I chose medicine. I was very fortunate to get into medical school, but during medical school I thought I would become a family practitioner or a pediatrician. However, since high school, I had always liked working with the microscope. During college I did some work for a neuropsychology lab, so I became interested in the brain. When it came time to decide on a residency, it turned out that pathology was the best choice for me because I could understand disease and maybe I could do something about it. So, I went into pathology and was able to use my neuroscience background in neuropathology. I’ve been doing it for the last 20 years and I’ve never looked back.
The most important part for me is sharing what I have learned with young people who are now learning the field, be they residents, fellows or medical students. I train residents in pathology, neurosurgery, neurology and they all want to learn neuropathology. It’s exciting to be in a position where I can help with their education.
There are two basic areas in neuropathology: surgical neuropathology and neurodegenerative disease. Within surgical neuropathology, there is a lot of excitement about identifying bio-markers within brain tumors that will not only predict the correct diagnosis, but that can predict response to therapies. I think equally as important is that the pathologist can distinguish a tumor from a whole array of diseases that can mimic tumors. Disorders like demyelinating diseases, vascular diseases, and a host of other non-neoplastic diseases can mimic tumors. If we don’t make the right diagnosis, a person can receive the absolute wrong therapy. These are the kind of things that I like to focus on in surgical neuropathology. Within the area of neurodegenerative diseases, there is a whole spectrum of disorders that we’re just figuring out. In fact, there are new recommendations for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. You’d think, “Alzheimer’s disease has been around forever, and only now we’re figuring out how to diagnose it?” Well, we’ve always been able to make neuropathologic diagnoses, but we don’t make them in any kind of a uniform or standardized way. The new criteria for neurodegenerative disease diagnosis will help to do that.
I think the days of textbooks as being the primary learning instrument have passed. People still use textbooks, but I think the opportunity to have textual material and high-quality images as electronic publications is critical right now. That’s how young people like to learn and they will go to the textbook secondarily. It’s very exciting to have a text that someone can read on their iPad while they’re waiting for the bus.
I’m very excited to be involved in writing Neuropathology, as part of the High-Yield series. I think what High-Yield Neuropathology does a little differently from other neuropathology textbooks is that it allows us to summarize critical areas of neuropathology in a concise format. People are busy, whether they’re studying for boards or working as a non-expert in pathology. This book allows them to find key critical information quickly, in bullet point form on the clinical aspects of a neuropathologic condition, neurologic diseases, critical imaging findings, special studies that might be helpful, and main differential diagnoses. With this publication you don’t have to read through a lot of material to get to what you’re after. You can look at the summary, and if we did our job right, the information will be there.
Anthony T. Yachnis, MD, is a professor, director of anatomic pathology, and chief of neuropathology within the University of Florida’s Department of Pathology. Dr. Yachnis is the author of more than 100 journal articles, book chapters and abstracts, including Neuropathology, a volume in the High Yield Pathology series. He has also given many invited national and local presentations.
Dr. Yachnis is certified in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology by the American Board of Pathology. He earned his medical degree at George Washington University School of Medicine, and completed his residency and fellowship in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also an American Cancer Association Clinical Research Fellow in Surgical Pathology. Dr. Yachnis has won national and local awards for research and teaching, including the Horatio T. Enterline Award in Surgical Pathology and the Moore Award of the American Association of Neuropathologists. He is currently President Elect of the American Association of Neuropathologists.
Related Author: Marie Rivera-Zengotita, MD