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Authors > Jason L. Hornick, MD

“It’s an amazing place we’ve come to in diagnosing soft-tissue tumors.” – Dr. Jason Hornick

Dr. Hornick’s Road to Pathology

I started my training in cancer research. I did a combined MD/PhD program where my PhD was doing research on antibody engineering to develop new ways to treat cancer.  The people I worked with had a lot of experience in developing new antibodies for diagnostic pathology. I then came to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I work now, as a resident in pathology, initially thinking I was going to do cancer research entirely. But, I really fell in love with diagnostic surgical pathology, and learning how to diagnose cancers of various types. I also loved working with residents and fellows, teaching them what we do in pathology to help improve the ways that we diagnose cancer and provide critical information to our colleagues in oncology and surgery to better take care of patients. 

What’s New in the Field of Pathology

I think pathology is an incredibly changing field right now. We started off at the beginning where everything was based on routine H&E, looking down the microscope. Over the past 30 years, we’ve acquired amazing new technologies to improve what we do as diagnostic pathologists. We’ve developed ways to examine protein expression in cells with immunohistochemistry. Then electron microscopy came on the scene, allowing us to look very deeply into cells for specific features that could help us with diagnosis. Now we’re in an era where molecular diagnostics is moving so fast. It’s being linked with identifying therapeutic targets so we can do personalized medicine for almost every type of cancer that we now diagnose. As pathologists, we play a critical role in helping identify those targets for oncologists to treat patients with cancer. Over the coming decade or two we’re going to see a revolution in how we conceive of and diagnose cancer of various types. 

About Practical Soft Tissue Pathology

Practical Soft Tissue Pathology is intended for both pathologists in training and practicing pathologists to learn how to diagnose very rare soft tissue tumors, which traditionally is one of the most difficult areas of diagnostic pathology. Many of these tumors have overlapping features under the microscope, so what’s unique about this textbook is that it’s based on histologic patterns. Many of the textbooks of the past, which are extraordinary resources for pathologists, have an encyclopedic approach to tumor diagnosis. In contrast, this book is organized by histologic pattern. There are chapters on spindle cell tumors, epithelioid tumors, tumors with prominent inflammation, all of which will give practicing pathologists a framework for approaching these tumors. The book provides practical tables that focus on differential diagnosis and explain how to use simple clinical information, anatomic site of presentation of the tumor, and the histology to inform what types of ancillary studies you’re going to do. It’s an amazing place we’ve come to in diagnosing soft-tissue tumors. I think that this textbook is going be very practical across the microscope. Pathologists will be able to open the book to a specific chapter and the book will help them come to a specific diagnosis. 


Jason L. Hornick, MD, PhD is widely known for his major research on soft tissue sarcomas and gastrointestinal cancers. His focus in soft tissue sarcomas includes evaluating histologic and immunohistochemical parameters that predict clinical outcome, and identifying diagnostically useful immunophenotypic markers. He is currently studying gastrointestinal stromal tumors, leiomyosarcomas, histiocytic and dendritic cell sarcomas, and neural tumors of skin and soft tissue. Dr. Hornick’s focus in gastrointestinal cancer is the pathology of Barrett’s esophagus and associated dysplasia and adenocarcinoma, in particular with the goal of improving the prognostic value of endoscopic surveillance biopsies, and studying the clonal evolution of neoplasia in Barrett’s esophagus. In addition to esophageal adenocarcinoma, he also studies colorectal carcinoma and pancreatic carcinoma.

Dr. Hornick is Director of Surgical Pathology and Director of the Immunohistochemistry Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and a Consultant in Pathology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Hornick’s clinical specialties include surgical pathology, soft tissue and bone pathology, hematopathology, gastrointestinal pathology, and molecular genetics. He has published research on over 50 topics in his areas of expertise and is a frequent contributor to medical journals. Dr. Hornick was awarded the Arthur Purdy Stout Society of Surgical Pathologists Annual Prize in 2012, in recognition of significant career achievements in surgical pathology under the age of 45 years.  He is the author of Practical Soft Tissue Pathology, a volume in the Pattern Recognition series.