Welcome from the Chair

Saul Suster, MD

Welcome to our website, and thank you for the opportunity to introduce you to our department! The Department of Pathology at the Medical College of Wisconsin serves several key roles at our institution.

As the provider of diagnostic services in anatomic (tissue) pathology and laboratory medicine, the department plays a critical support role for the entire medical center and its community of patients, physicians, paramedical personnel and researchers. Without the provision of high quality diagnostic services in surgical pathology and clinical laboratories, physicians and nurses in our system would not be able to properly evaluate patients admitted to the hospital or in the outpatient setting, perform surgery, or treat cancer and other patients.

In many ways, pathologists are the “silent doctors” who, despite being unknown to the patient, play one of the most critical roles in their care.

The role of a pathologist is to serve as an expert consultant to other physicians by rendering diagnoses and test interpretations on samples removed from patients, as well as guiding their fellow colleagues in terms of assessment of prognosis and prediction of the course of a disease. In many ways, pathologists are the “silent doctors” who, despite being unknown to the patient, play one of the most critical roles in their care.

In addition to patient care activities, pathologists are also critical in the education of the next generation of physicians and allied professionals. The pathology course for the medical students at the Medical College of Wisconsin provides the foundation for the understanding of mechanisms of disease, pathogenesis and the cellular substrate of human diseases. As such, our discipline serves as a bridge between the basic sciences and clinical medicine. In addition, we also educate our fellow physicians regarding mechanisms of disease and the biologic behavior of the various diseases we routinely examine and, as such, contribute to the continuing medical education of our peers.

Finally, pathologists play a critical role in biomedical research. In addition to constantly improving diagnostic methods, developing new criteria for a more accurate and simplified diagnosis, and redefining our understanding of disease processes, pathologists are uniquely positioned to apply many of the emerging modern biomedical techniques to the study of human disease. Because pathologists are custodians of the tissue samples obtained from patients admitted to our system, we are ideally positioned to carry out research that utilizes those tissues to advance our understanding of disease. In fact, because the natural setting for a pathologist is the laboratory where the diagnostic tests are normally carried out, laboratory research is merely a natural extension of our job.

In recent years biomedical research has tremendously expanded our understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms of disease. Modern science has exponentially advanced in terms of its ability to perform assay for molecular and genetic abnormalities that underlie most human disorders. Newer techniques such as DNA in-situ hybridization, polymerase chain reaction, fluorescence in-situ hybridization and molecular profiling have revolutionized the field of medical research. Pathologists are uniquely positioned to apply these techniques for the study of human tissues and, as such, to translate the knowledge gained from basic science to the bedside. As such, pathologists are the original and quintessential “translational researchers”.

Saul Suster, MD, Chair