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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



May: Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage

Dear RPS members,

In 2022, the RPS would like 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 May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (https://fapac.org/AAPI-Resources), our May interview is with Dr. Jean Hou, current RPS financial committee member and current communications and social media committee member, and Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.  Please find the interview below. 


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

Jean Hou

Born:  Garden Grove, California

Work:  Cedars Sinai Medical Center

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

My research project during fellowship was developing immunofluorescence criteria for diagnosing C3 glomerulopathy, but since then I have developed quite the variety of interests in areas such as paraprotein mediated kidney diseases and pediatric renal pathology, among many others… I don’t think I’ve been doing this long enough yet to have really narrowed down my interests to one particular topic.  On most days I still feel like a kid in a candy store, and I feel genuinely guilty that they actually pay me to do this on a daily basis. 

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

The case variety certainly keeps me on my toes, and I love the fact that I can have a day that includes urgent transplant pathology, kiddos with perplexing GN’s, and kidneys on fire with vasculitis, peppered with unremitting diabetic nephropathy… it’s NEVER a boring day.  I also really appreciate the intellectual stimulation provided by the variety of modalities (LM, IF, and EM) we employ to examine each kidney biopsy, not to mention the special stains that are ever-increasing in number and complexity.  And above all, I truly enjoy the conversations that I have with our clinicians, and it is really incredibly rewarding to feel their genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for what we do.  It’s a win-win situation.

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

The most challenging aspect for me has always been trying to master the art of synthesizing and distilling all of the information that we have gathered, and translating that into an accurate and ACTIONABLE diagnosis and comment.  That word, actionable, is important to me.  I always tell our trainees and nephrologists that my job was never to hand them a 50 page biopsy report full of unnecessary information that will make their eyes cross in confusion.  We (all pathologists) went to medical school too, and I feel like some of us do not have, or maybe shy away from, the opportunity to flex our clinical muscles and really engage the clinicians in those difficult discussions.  Actionable, to me, means using my own clinical judgment and pathologic expertise to provide our clinicians with concise information that will not only diagnose the disease, but actually guide management and maybe even help predict outcome.  This can only happen if we are open and honest with the clinicians, even if that means being wrong sometimes.

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

It’s funny… I came across a workbook that I filled out when I was 6 years old and the question was “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.  My answer was “princess” or “doctor”.  I achieved the second, and I am sure that many of my family and friends have candid opinions on the former.

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

I hope that time will demystify what we do.  I’m always surprised to hear how wary some non-medical renal pathologists are of examining the renal parenchyma surrounding their tumor specimens.  It is for this reason that I really enjoy working with the Residents on the autopsy service who routinely bring over kidney slides for consultation.  I try to approach each case in a very systematic manner and give them the tools (whether they want them or not!) to be able to do their own evaluations someday.  I want them to feel empowered, not intimidated.  I tell them there is no magic involved in Renal Pathology; I have two eyes and a brain just like almost everyone else. 

7. Any special interests apart from Nephropathology? 

When I first got to Cedars, I was shocked and terrified that they were going to let me touch the electron microscopes unsupervised.  I think we (Cedars) might be in the minority of programs where we scope all of our own cases.  But once I got the hang of it, I never looked back!  I really became obsessed with ultrastructure, and began exploring and trying to advocate for its uses outside of medical renal pathology (I know, shocked gasp).  I have had the opportunity to collaborate with investigators at Cedars, exploring mitochondrial changes in animal models of pancreatitis, cardiac ischemia, hepatitis, and soon, neurogenesis!  With all the time I’m spending down in the dungeon (EM lab) I am beginning to think that I’m going to need to start taking vitamin D supplements.

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

What do I think renal pathology will look like in 10 years?  I think it’s inevitable that renal pathology will need to adapt (at least in part) to digital pathology.  If I’m being completely honest, I far prefer glass slides and my own two eyes for interpretation, particularly with those subtle changes in hue and texture that can be highlighted by our different stains.  But I also recognize that as the technology improves, there may be some real benefits to scanned slides and utilization of AI.  I think this has potential to help centers in the US as well as in other countries who may not have a medical renal pathologist but require assistance with simple consultations, such as autopsy kidney, medical renal evaluation from tumor nephrectomies, or pre-implantation frozen section evaluation from donor allografts which are often read by non-medial renal pathologists in the middle of the night. 

What do I think renal PATHOLOGISTS will look like in 10 years?  I’m so excited by the increasing diversity in our field, and a growing interest among young trainees!  In 10 years, my hope is that the body of renal pathologists will reflect the increasing diversity of the general population. 

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

I have two sets of mentors who have been invaluable at different parts of my education and career.  Obviously, the All-Star team at Columbia University Medical Center where I did my Renal Pathology fellowship (Vivette D'Agati, Glen Markowitz, Barry Stokes, and Leal Herlitz) were crucial and unwaveringly patient with me during that formative stage where I was just learning how to BECOME a Renal Pathologist.  And then there is my second family here at Cedars (Cynthia Nast, Mark Haas, Mercury Lin, and Michifumi Yamashita) who really taught me how to BE a Renal Pathologist, and hopefully a good one.  There was such a steep learning curve during the first years of being an Attending, and in all honesty the learning just never stops.  I am forever grateful that they took a chance on me, and it really has been an honor to work beside and continue to learn from them on a daily basis. 

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

Like all pathologists, I love food.  When I'm not at work or in front of my computer, you can usually find me in the kitchen cooking massive meals, because I have never quite learned the art of scaling down a recipe.  I have fed my friends, families, and people at work for years now, and have yet to hear a complaint.  I had actually considered starting a catering company way back when, but obviously had to give up that pipe dream when I was accepted to medical school.  Deep down, I still believe I am a frustrated chef.

 

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 (or non-work related life) as an Asian American?  Are there specific experiences that you would like to share? 

I think that the more memorable challenges in my WORK-related life have had more to do with my being female than Asian American.  I skipped a grade early in school and as a result have always been significantly younger than my peers, and I've also been told that I appear (and act!) "younger than her stated age".  Fast forward to my years post-college, when I took a 10 year hiatus working at the NIH where I eventually became head of a small diagnostic unit within the lab.  It was an eye-opener when I began travelling to meetings and collaborating with other scientists, realizing that many senior investigators were already searching past me and asking, "So where is Jean Hou?  I thought HE would be here today…".  I had to learn very quickly how to navigate these awkward situations, often relying on humor for deflection.  I used to be painfully and excruciatingly shy, and I credit these formative years for really developing confidence and a voice that demanded to be taken seriously in my role as a researcher and collaborator.

 With regards to my non-work related life, I would have to have been comatose or living under a rock, not to have felt the reverberations of the anti-Asian sentiment that emerged during the pandemic.  I realize that the nature of my job and my geographic location sheltered me somewhat from the eruptions during this time, but I felt the deep, rumbling aftershocks.  I was fortunate enough to have escaped direct confrontation in daily life and at work, but of course I have friends and family who have not been as fortunate, including colleagues from other medical specialties.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who sincerely want to continue performing their duties without fear, regardless of race. 



April: Celebrating National Autism Awareness

Dear RPS members,

In 2022, the RPS would like 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 April is National Autism Awareness Month (https://nationaltoday.com/autism-awareness-month/), our April interview is with Dr. Mark Haas, well known and celebrated RPS member and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.  Dr. Hass has a son with autism. Please find the interview and his touching bonus question below.  



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

My name is Mark Haas, I was born in Queens, New York, USA, and work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.

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

Actually, I have two main interests, kidney transplant pathology and IgA nephropathy.

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

A feature of nephropathology that I really like is how the process of performing my daily job of interpreting kidney biopsies allows and even encourages me to think about new ways to improve the diagnostic process and develop hypotheses to investigate.

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

While I really enjoy my work it is very engaging and time consuming and it has always been a challenge to balance my work life and my family life, something that I have often (as my wife and kids will remind me) not done a particularly good job of.

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

Believe it or not, when I was a young child I wanted to be a trash collector, and would ride around my neighborhood in the garbage truck.  When I was in high school and during my first 2 years of college I wanted to be a professional golfer, and was pretty good, but when I played against some of the top collegiate golfers I realized that I could practice 10 hours a day and never be as good as they were.

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

Personally I look forward to getting back to pre-COVID life soon, and also to working 75% time starting in 2023, leading a more relaxed life and taking actual vacations.  With all that is going on in the world right now, though, my immediate wish is for the current war in Eastern Europe and threats of attacks elsewhere in the world to abate.

7. Any special interests apart from Nephropathology? 

As noted above I enjoy golfing and would like to get back to playing more.  I am also a bit of a history buff and enjoy traveling to parts of the US and the world whose history I have studied.

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

I strongly suspect that molecular pathology will become increasingly more important as a diagnostic tool over this time, and also suspect (or perhaps fear) that there will be an increased use of artificial intelligence/machine learning in histopathologic diagnosis.  However, to paraphrase the late Juan Rosai when (in the late 1980s) he was confronted with the question of whether molecular diagnostics and computers would soon replace diagnostic pathology as we know it, he replied that "in 50 years pathologists will still be looking at glass slides using microscopes".  So I suppose that at least for the next 10 years or so our jobs will be safe.

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

I have had two important mentors in renal pathology - Mike Kashgarian who introduced me to the field, provided me with my initial training during my residency and fellowship, and stressed the importance of clinico-pathologic correlation, and the late Robert Heptinstall who took me under his wing when I was a faculty member at Hopkins and taught me some of the more detailed aspects of renal diagnosis as well as negotiating the academic environment.  In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with a good number of other senior renal pathologists who have taught me a great deal, in particular Lorraine Racusen, Bob Colvin, Arthur Cohen, and Cindy Nast.

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

Golf, traveling, and watching movies, especially historical dramas.

Bonus Question:  What is something you would like to share, or would like for more people to know about the experience of having a close family member or loved one with autism?

As some of you know, my youngest son Zachary, now age 25, is on the autism spectrum, and also had problems with substance abuse (which is not uncommon in teens and young adults on the spectrum).  Being a parent to a child with special needs is a challenge on several fronts, including trying to find a balance between guiding and supporting them and giving them independence and having them experience failure.  This was often a point of contention between my wife Lisa and myself and caused rifts (fortunately not permanent) in our marriage and also complicated our relationship with our older son Matthew (who just got engaged!).  Fortunately, Zach is verbal and moderately high functioning, but it was a challenge finding appropriate schools for him, and this played a large part in our moving from Baltimore to LA.  Still, we have stuck with it, remained patient, overcome some but not all challenges, and have reaped the satisfaction of seeing Zach now living independently in Salt Lake City and working full time as a staff member in a group home for young adults with developmental disabilities.  What is particularly satisfying is that over the past 4-5 years my relationship with Zach, which was often quite difficult earlier, has grown closer.



February: Celebrating the history of Black Americans

Dear RPS members,

In 2022, the RPS would like to focus on embracing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and on broadening our international network. One way to achieve this goal is to celebrate a semi-monthly calendar of observances and appreciations for those that are underrepresented in medicine, with 10-question interviews highlighting our diverse pool of members. As February is the month of celebrating the history of Black Americans (who disproportionately suffer from kidney disease), the first interview is with Carla Ellis, former RPS training committee chair and then treasurer, and now co-chair of the Communications/Website committee and Social Media Working Group. Please find the interview below.




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

My name is Carla Ellis. I was born in Columbus, Georgia on the Fort Benning army base (I'm an army brat!) and I currently work at Northwestern University Hospital/School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

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

I love everything about nephropathology, so it's very hard for me to pick a favorite, or specific subtopic. What I love most is teaching the complexities of our interesting field to medical students, nephrology fellows, and pathology residents!

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

I love teaching, and I also love the interwovenness of the findings on renal biopsies by light, immunofluorescence (IF) and electron microscopy! Many times I look at my IF slides first to get a sense of my cases before light microscopy. Electron microscopy is so important for us, and the images are

a beautiful modality. I also appreciate the wealth of expertise in our field and what we learn from senior renal pathologists at our conferences and meetings.

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

We experience many daily challenges, but one the most challenging aspects of my job is time management between the demands of administrative and clinical service work, teaching preparation, committee/society work and research pursuits. I'm a fan of structure, and we all know how "unstructured" a typical work day can be. I want to do the best I can in all of those aspects, so I'm still evolving and will likely always be a work in progress!

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

Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but then I spent some time at an animal pound and quickly changed my mind. I love animals but it's so hard to see them hurt or neglected.

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

My wish would be the universal realization and acceptance of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusivity across all medical specialties and within our professional societies and workspaces.

7. Any special interests apart from Nephropathology?

Genitourinary pathology - many renal pathologists have done a fellowship in another specialty, mine was genitourinary (GU) pathology. GU is a great "companion" for renal pathology as all aspects of the kidney are covered, and non-neoplastic renal disease is important to understand and appreciate along with renal tumors.

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

I look forward to the more widespread use of digital imaging for all pathology subspecialties, especially in renal pathology, which I think will be more readily available in 10 years.

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

There are so many individuals that have played a huge part in my love of pathology overall, and specifically renal pathology. If I had to name one person, it would be Lorraine Racusen. Dr. Racusen was a renal pathology attending at Johns Hopkins when I was a pathology resident and renal pathology fellow there. She was the first to explain to me that the pathology of the kidney was actually two separate fellowships (Genitourinary and Medical Renal). I went on to do both fellowships, but I loved my time with Dr. Racusen and her passion and expertise in renal transplant pathology. She was a tough, but effective teacher and would edit my previewed reports with giant, aggressive circles on all my mistakes, including the time I left the word "glom" in a report instead of the proper term of "glomerulus"! She was a wonderful teacher and now a respected colleague.

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

I have been trying to prioritize and have an intentional focus on wellness and self-care. Our jobs as physicians and trainees are very stressful and highly subject to burnout. It's up to us as individuals to prioritize adequate breaks and restorative activities so that we can adjust to work related stress and be the best versions of ourselves at all times. As such, I try to make sure I use my vacations and other time away from work with friends and family and exploring the amazing art and museum culture of Chicago. It's not a hard place to find great food as well!

Bonus Question of Dr. Ellis’ choosing: What is one thing about you that one wouldn't know from reviewing your CV or casually meeting you at a conference?

I'm so glad you asked! A long time ago I was considered a great volleyball player and I was inducted into the athletic hall of fame at my college alma mater, Howard University. Go Bison!!


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.

Contacts

Office of the Secretary

Virginie Royal, MD
secretary@renalpathsoc.org

Office of the Treasurer

Kuang-Yu Jen, MD, PhD
treasurer@renalpathsoc.org


Copyright Renal Pathology Society © 2018. - Privacy Policy

Mailing address: 1440 W. Taylor St. # 734, Chicago, IL, USA   Fax: +1 (312) 281-0029


Copyright Renal Pathology Society © 2018. - Privacy Policy

Mailing address: 1440 W. Taylor St. # 734, Chicago, IL, USA   Fax: +1 (312) 281-0029

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