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Non-profit organization committed to improvement and dissemination of knowledge regarding the pathology and pathophysiology of renal disease

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

February 2023: Black History Month

Dear RPS members,

In 2023, the RPS will continue to focus on embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion; and on broadening our international network.  One way to achieve this goal is to celebrate a semi-monthly calendar of observances and appreciations with 10-question interviews highlighting our diverse pool of members.   As February is Black History Month, our February 2023 interview is with Dr. Dawit Demeke, who was a former Assistant Professor of Pathology at St. Paul’s Hospital Medical College in Ethiopia, and is currently a research fellow at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Demeke is a former international member of the RPS and was previously the director of renal pathology at St. Paul’s Hospital Medical College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  He was one of the founding faculty and a postgraduate program director in the department of pathology at St. Paul, and he pioneered Renal Pathology services for the first time in his country. He is currently a Team Leader at Dr. Jeffrey Hodgin’s laboratory at the University of Michigan.   Please find his interview below, and see the links about Black History Month and histology services in Ethiopia!

Black History Month     Status of Histopathology Services in Ethiopia


1.      What is your name, where were you born, where do you work?

My name is Dawit Solomon Demeke, I was born in Ethiopia in a city called Shashemene. I currently work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

2.      What is your number one topic of interest in nephropathology?

I like most, if not all topics and subtopics in renal pathology.   But due to my current engagement, I am inclined more toward digital pathology and AI.  As a research fellow in Dr. Hodgin’s laboratory, I will help to integrate novel approaches to renal pathology analysis with molecular data and clinical outcomes.

3.      What is the thing you like most about your job?

Teamwork is always my passion, I enjoy teaching. I trained several medical students and pathology residents. My current engagement is technology driven and dynamic, which I’m always excited about.

4.      What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Sometimes, you need to manage your time effectively so that you get things done on time. Time management is challenging at times especially when you have a family to deal with.  In my pathology practice in Ethiopia, the most challenging part of my job was frequent renal pathology service interruption due to a lack of resources and procurement bureaucracy which sometimes makes it impossible to provide the service required.

5. What did you want to become when you were a child?

I always wanted to become a medical doctor when I was a child and I became a doctor as I wanted! I wanted to do my residency in internal medicine, but later changed my mind to study pathology and I became a pathologist /nephropathologist.

6. What would be your wish for the future - in general or in relation to your work?

I wish for the infrastructure for renal pathology services to improve in Africa and all third-world countries.  I wish nephrologists in developing countries could base their management of patients on biopsy reports as this significantly improves patient outcomes. I would say resource mobilization from rich to poor countries is vital.

7. Any special interests apart from Nephropathology?

Yes, apart from nephropathology I’m interested in Gynecologic pathology and cervical cytopathology. In my career as a pathologist in Ethiopia, I noted that the incidence of cervical cancer is very high because there is no standardized screening method like a pap smear, which could have prevented many mothers from dying with early detection of precancerous cells. I always wanted to advocate for Pap smear as a screening method for the prevention of cervical cancer, as it has proven to be in other parts of the world.  As a person who practiced pathology in low-resource settings, I used to interpret and report biopsies taken from most organs.

8. How do you think Renal Pathology will look in 10 years’ time?

In ten years, I will expect applications of AI and digital pathology solutions to be commercialized and utilized for the diagnosis of kidney diseases and other organs.  In addition, I’m also hopeful to see an increasing number of nephropathologists trained and working in third-world countries.

9. Who would you consider to be your mentor in renal pathology or pathology in general?

There were many pathologists who shaped my path in pathology but currently, Dr. Jeffrey Hodgin is my mentor.  I’m learning a lot from him and his team.  In Dr. Hodgin’s laboratory at the University of Michigan, we are actively researching developments of AI and digital pathology solutions in nephropathology.  In my time as visiting clinician, I was mentored by Dr. Lynn D. Cornell and her colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I’m grateful to everyone who helped/is helping my professional career development.

10. What is your favorite non-work-related activity or way to spend your time?

Whenever I have free time to spend, I enjoy performing certain indoor and outdoor sporting activities. I also enjoy spending time with my family.

Bonus Question:  Have you experienced any challenges or is there anything you would like the RPS to know about navigating the field of academic medicine and pathology as an international medical graduate? Are there specific experiences that you would like to share?

In my practice as a pathologist & nephropathologist, resources are always a problem, especially in a third-world country that hinders the delivery of optimum healthcare services to patients. Resource mobilization should be a strategy to improve kidney care across the globe.  In addition, fellowship training to produce more nephropathologists in third-world countries and utilization of technology in the context of low-resource settings are key opportunities to improve global health worldwide.

To give a good example of this, we established a renal pathology service wing in my hospital in Addis Ababa with a donated fluorescent microscope from the University of Duke which was facilitated by Dr. Gustaaf De Ridder who was a fellow there at that time.  ISN also helped the establishment process by sending its educational ambassador, Dr. Lois J. Arend (Nephropathologist) and Zainab Vanhorn-Ali (histotechnologist) to give hands-on training on-site.  I believe this is a good example of resource mobilization & collaboration for the needy.   I’m thankful to all who participated!.

About RPS

The RPS promotes excellence in diagnosis, fosters basic, clinical and translational research, encourages training and education in renal disease, sponsors US based and international conferences and symposia, and brings news and updates pertaining to renal pathology to its members around the world.

Mailing address:

1440 W. Taylor St. # 734, Chicago, IL USA, Fax: (312) 281-0029


Office of the Secretary

Mei Lin Z. Bissonnette MD PhD

Office of the Treasurer

Kuang-Yu Jen, MD, PhD

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