About Us

About Us

1893-1972: The Establishment of UPMC

Presbyterian University Hospital (PUH) was established in 1893. After affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine it became the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). During subsequent decades the hospital system continued to evolve and consolidate with regional hospitals including Montefiore Hospital in 1970’s and Shadyside Hospital in the 1980’s. However, the Oakland area was home to 4 other hospitals; the Veterans Administration Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Eye & Ear Hospital and Magee-Women’s Hospital, all of which shared academic faculty and all of which except for the VA, would become part of UPMC in subsequent years. Growth and consolidation have continued with expansion nationally and internationally making UPMC one of the largest academic medical centers in the world.

Early on UPMC was renowned for excellence in its clinical and teaching missions. With the recruitment of Dr. Thomas Detre in the 1980’s a greater emphasis was placed on medical research building on the strengths of our clinical and training programs. The Department of Pathology has always been central to these missions. Evolving along with the medical center, in 1991 Dr. George Michalopolous was recruited to continue to build the Department and complement existing clinical research programs particularly in hepatology.

1972-1992: The Establishment of Neuropathology

In 1965 Dr. John Moossy was appointed Professor of Pathology. He stayed at PUH for 2 years before moving to Wake Forest University in North Carolina. In 1972 Dr. Moossy returned to Pittsburgh to establish the Division of Neuropathology and fulfill the role of Director and Chief. Dr. Moossy brought with him his associate Dr. Howard Wisotzkey. Unfortunately, 3 years later in August of 1975, Dr. Wisotzkey died of metastatic melanoma.  In July of 1976 Dr. A. Julio Martinez was recruited from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) as Associate Professor in the Division. Under the directorship of Dr. Moossy, the Division prospered providing the entire gamut of clinical neuropathological services for UPMC in addition to national and international consultations. At the same time the Division retained a broad teaching mission, providing clinical training to undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students. In 1981 Dr. Moossy was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology (JNEN), the official organ of the American Association of Neuropathologists (AANP). In 1991 after 10 years serving as the Editor-in-Chief of JNEN and 20 years serving as Director of Neuropathology, Dr. Moossy retired. In 1992, Dr. Moossy received the AANP Award for Meritorious Contributions to Neuropathology. From July of 1992 to July of 1993 Dr. Mark Hurtt was appointed “interim director” of the Division. Throughout this time the Oakland community of Neuropathologists included; Dr. Gutti Rao at the VA Hospital, Drs. Robert Shuman, Barbara Zaias and Robert Price at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Bruce Johnson at Eye & Ear Hospital, and Drs. Mamdouha Ahdab-Barmada and Diana Claassen at Magee-Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

The Clinical Neurohistology Laboratory opened in July 1972. Margaret Vagasky Boring (HT, HTL) was hired in December 1972. The histology staff was expanded with the recruitment of Gail Taylor and Betty Micic (from Columbia University and the Neurological Institute in New York where Dr. Moossy did his fellowship in Neuropathology).   In July 1977 Marie Rozantz LeRoy joined Mrs. Boring for 16 years in the Clinical Neurohistology Laboratory. At the onset the Clinical Neurohistology laboratory at PUH processed, cut and stained tissues from autopsies. The laboratory evolved to process all neurosurgical specimens (brain biopsies, tumors, skeletal muscle, peripheral nerve biopsies, and pituitary adenomas) mastering the key areas of neurohistology from electron microscopy to the new immunohistochemistry. With command of the latest histology techniques, research activities were initiated and grants were obtained from the NIH and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. An Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) grant was obtained with multidisciplinary participation. Increased workloads associated with the two grants, required additional personnel, increasing from two to four histotechnologists.   Enzyme histochemistry techniques were performed on muscle biopsies and the immunoperoxidase staining procedures were initiated for pituitary adenomas and brain tumors. For 2 decades the Division’s technical and secretarial staff included; Kimberlee Kondrat, Marie LeRoy (HT), Jonette Werley (HT, HTL), Sung Hui Hong (HT, HTL), Karen Perkins Weber, Agnes Zachoszcz, and Joan Heinecke, all of whom provided the critical infrastructure for the Division’s success.

In these early years the Division of Neuropathology had residents, interns and medical students that rotated through the Division for three to six months. The trainees came from Pathology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroradiology, Neuro-anesthesiology and Psychiatry. The medical students who chose an elective in Neuropathology did an eight-week rotation. The Division also offered an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved Fellowship in Neuropathology for residents with prior training in Anatomical Pathology, Neurology or Neurosurgery.  Formal neuroscience conferences were organized and given on a weekly basis including; brain cutting conferences, basic neuroscience conferences and surgical neuropathology.

1993-2021

Dr. Clayton Wiley was recruited from the University of California in San Diego to the post of Neuropathology Division Director in July 1993. Dr. Wiley’s mission was to build federally funded research programs upon the Division’s excellent clinical and teaching foundation. Additional personnel, space and resources were required for this restructuring. Over the next 7 years several faculty joined the staff: Cristian Achim MD, PhDRonald Hamilton, MDDavid Lacomis MDRobert Bowser PhDCharleen T. Chu, MD, PhD and Marta Couce, MD. During that same period Dr. Diana Claassen moved to private practice in Idaho, Dr. Mark Hurtt moved to pharmaceutical industry, Dr. A. Julio Martinez became Emeritus Professor of Pathology, and Dr. Bruce Johnson retired, with re-integration of Ophthalmic Pathology into the Neuropathology Division by Dr. Chu. Additionally, Dr. Robert H. Garman a veterinary neuropathologist, formally affiliated with the Division. To retain a Center of Excellence model, rather than dividing up the faculty to the spatially separated facilities, all of the Neuropathologists with the exception of the VA had offices in either Scaife or the Biomedical Sciences Tower.

In January 1997 the Clinical Neurohistology Laboratory was closed after 25 years of service excellence and the clinical work transferred to UPMC Pathology Histology Laboratory. The lab itself was reborn as the Neurohistology Laboratory under the professional guidance of Dr. Ron Hamilton and the technical guidance of Mrs. Jonnette Werley. The lab has been critical to the research mission of the Division. While initially focused on histologic evaluation of neurodegenerative diseases (and funded in part by the ADRC), the Neurohistology Lab has been central in developing collaborations throughout the basic and clinical neurosciences.

2000-2010

In the first decade of the millennium, the faculty composition of the Division changed again. After over a quarter of a century of service, we were all saddened by the death of Dr. Julio Martinez in 2002. In 2005 Dr. Marta Couce returned with her family to Mallorca Spain to practice Anatomic and Neuropathology, and in the following year Dr. Cristian Achim returned to San Diego California to join the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD. The Division refilled its ranks hiring Dr. Geoffrey Murdoch in 2004 as Associate Professor and in 2006 Dr. Kate McFadden as Assistant Professor. In reflection of the success of the Division’s research mission, 4 Research Assistant Professors were hired: Dr. Jeffery Zhu in 2007, Dr. Dafna Bonneh-Barkay in 2008, Dr. Stephanie Bissel in 2009 and Dr. Julia Kofler in 2010. These new additions continued to strengthen the Division’s integrated missions encompassing Clinical Service, Education and Research.   Because of expanded clinical volumes our administrative support staff was expanded to include Jill Dietrich (1996-2000), Karen Weber (2000-Present), Rebecca Byles (2001-2005) and Christina Romanello (2006-Present).  In 2009 we leveraged our investment in intra-UPMC teleneuropathology to provide the first interstate intraoperative consultation service for Neurosurgery.

2011-Present

The rapid growth of both the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC was accompanied by numerous changes in the Division. In 2011 Dr. Robert Bowser assumed the position of Professor and Director of the ALS and Neuromuscular Research Center at the Barrow Institute in Arizona. In 2018 Dr. Ronald Hamilton retired followed shortly in 2019 by retirement of Dr. Geoffrey Murdoch. Fortunately, we were able to successfully recruit two of our previous trainees Dr. Scott Kulich and Dr. Thomas Pearce to fill Drs. Hamilton and Murdoch’s positions. Most recently with Dr. Wiley’s decision to move to Emeritus Professor effective July 2022, we recruited our senior neuropathology fellow Dr. Daniel Marker to maintain our complement of 5 full time neuropathologists

Over the years, our offices and research labs have moved from the 5th floor to our current home on the 7th floor of Scaife Hall in 2014. The physical interdigitation of clinical and research space is optimal for translational studies. In addition to common division histology, tissue culture and confocal microscopy space, each faculty member has committed research benches. The division runs the University of Pittsburgh Brain Bank, research neurohistology laboratory, and confocal microscopy facility. The Division’s annual direct and indirect research budget is approximately $1,000,000 and $500,000 respectively. Specific research programs are included on each faculty member’s web page.

Clinical Mission

As part of the largest academic health care system in the world, the Division of Neuropathology has remained a beacon of clinical excellence.  We continue to provide state of the art evaluation of brain, eye, nerve and muscle surgical specimens along with a strong commitment to autopsy neuropathology.  Revolutions in molecular diagnostics and information sciences have further transformed the Division’s clinical mission.  Rather than replacing conventional diagnostic methodology, the new sciences have provided an expanded basis upon which to practice neuropathology.  Many morphological classification systems have been transformed by molecular insights and the Division has proudly played a key part in this transformation.  No longer physically confined by hospital walls, our Division has branched out both nationally and internationally to provide expertise to all parts of the globe.  Our pioneering work in telepathology has placed us in the forefront of the information revolution in diagnostic pathology.

Research Mission

Our faculty support a diverse research mission. Retaining a focus on neurodegeneration, it is fair to say that virtually every area of research in Neuropathology has found a niche in the Division. The following table summarizes the principal strengths of the different faculty member’s research programs.

Faculty

Faculty Member Name 

Date of Appointment

Current Title

Summary of Research (150 characters)

Charleen T. Chu, MD, PhD

1998

Professor (with tenure)

Molecular cell biology of neurodegeneration in Parkinson spectrum diseases and frontotemporal dementias. Kinase signaling, mitochondrial quality control & autophagy

Robert Garman, DVM

2000

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Garman is interested in all aspects of comparative neuropathology.  The bulk of his research is concentrated on mechanisms and morphologic patterns of neurotoxic injury induced in animals by exposure to drugs and chemicals.  (This includes the effects of chemicals on both the fully-developed and developing nervous system.)  In addition, Dr. Garman participates in a variety of collaborative research projects on animal models of brain ischemia/hypoxia and traumatic brain injury. 

Julia Kofler, MD

2010

Associate Professor

Microglial alterations in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Scott Kulich, MD, PhD

2003

Professor

Dr. Kulich's laboratory studies the interaction between oxidative neurotoxins and intracellular signal transduction cascades in the context or neurologic diseases.

David Lacomis, MD

2005

Professor of Neurology & Pathology

Cerebrospinal fluid and blood biomarkers in ALS; Clinical drug trials, epidemiology, and non-invasive ventilation in ALS; Histopathology of autoimmune and critical illness myopathies.

Daniel Marker, MD,PhD

2021

Assistant Professor

Neuron-oncology and neuroinflammation

Geoffrey Murdoch, MD, PhD

2004

Associate Professor (Emeritus)

Neuro-oncology and Neurodegeneration

Thomas Pearce, MD, PhD

2020

Assistant Professor

Neurodegeneration and Machine Learning

Clayton Wiley, MD

1993

Professor of Pathology (with tenure)

Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration

Training Mission

With an abundance of clinical and research opportunities it is small wonder that our training mission has expanded comparably. We are currently approved to train 4 ACGME neuropathology fellows, and have maintained grant support to fund numerous research postdoctoral trainees and graduate students. Recognizing the breath of career opportunities available to our neuropathology fellowship graduates, we created two training tracks: Academic/Anatomic and Academic/Research. All of our graduates that have taken the neuropathology boards have passed, and more importantly their training has made them competitive for excellent academic positions, with many programs looking to Pittsburgh to fill their future slots.

Beyond the fellows, we have expanded our training of clinical residents to include: anatomic pathology, psychiatry, neuroradiology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and neurology. These trainees are actively engaged in our clinical mission while at the same time developing a perspective on the research basis of medical knowledge. At the post-graduate level, Dr. Charleen Chu co-directs the Pathologist Investigator Residency-Research Training Program (PIRRT), which integrates fast-track research training with ACGME training in Pathology and its subspecialities including Neuropathology.

Clinical Trainees in the University of Pittsburgh Neuropathology Division

Year
Name
Most recent position  (*Retired)
1972-75
*Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, VAMC
1975-77
M. Ahdab Barmada
*Neuropathologist; Pittsburgh, PA
1980-1981
Josephine Ashmed
*Neuropathologist, Colorado
1981-83
Jose Cardozo
*Neuropathologist, Maracaibo, Venezuela
1983-85
Diana Claassen
*Neuropathologist; Idaho
1984-85
Karl O. Schwartz
*Neuropathologist; New Jersey
1988-91
Mark R. Hurtt
Chief Medical Officer, Alseres’ Pharmaceuticals
1995-96
Mark Inman
Private Practice Pathologist, Charleston, WV
1996-98
Hindi-Al-Hindi
Anatomic Pathologist, Neuropathologist, King Faisal Specialst Hospital & Research Center, Saudia Arabia
1996-98
Virawudh Soontornniyomki
Research Scientist, University of California at San Diego
1998-00
Linda Dallasta
Pathologist, Lakeland, Florida
2000-02
Marie Beckner
Pathologist, Willoughby Hills, OH
2000-02
Bennet Omalu
Professor of Pathology, UC Davis Health, Department of Medical & Laboratory Medicine, Sacramento, CA
2001-03
Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2002-04
Rafael Medina-Flores
Neuropathologist, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wisconsin
2003-05
Kathyrn McFadden
Pathologist, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
2006-08
Gabrielle Yeaney
Associate Professor of Pathology, Division of Neuropathology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
2006-08
Harry Kellermier
Professional Pathology Services Pc, Canden, South Carolina
2007-09
Craig Horbinski
Professor of Pathology/Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
2008-10
Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2008-10
Henry Armah
Laboratory Medical Director & Pathologist, McLaren Central Michigan, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
2008-11
Edward Plowey
Director Translational Neuropathology at Biogen, Cambridge, MA
2011-13
Kenneth Clark
Forensic Pathologist & Neuropathologist, Onondaga County Office of the Medical Examiner, Syracuse, New York
2012-14
Lananh Nguyen
Assistant Professor of Pathology, Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth, Lebanon, NH
2012-14
Leonidas Arvanitis
Assistant Clinical Professor, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, CA
2014-16
Jason Chiang
Assistant Member, Pathology/Neuropathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
2016-18
Diana Thomas
Assistant Professor of Pathology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
2017-19
Anne Shepler
Forensic Pathologist, Franklin County Coroner’s Office, Columbus, OH
2018-20
Thomas Pearce
Assistant Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2019-21
Daniel Marker
Assistant Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2020-Present
Osorio Lopes Abath Neto
Clinical Neuropathology Fellow
2020-Present
Wen Zhong
Clinical Neuropathology Fellow