Who Needs a Pathologist?!

I’d like to introduce a member of our McCormick LifeScience team, Elizabeth Preisinger, MD trained in pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and in molecular biology and genetics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She has clinical experience in community pathology at Lowell General Hospital and at the Veterans Administration.

Elizabeth’s turn!

When I was a young pathology resident, I was carrying the call pager one weekend.  A member of the public managed to get through to me and queried, “Is a pathologist the kind of doctor who tells you what’s wrong with you?”  I responded that, well, I suppose that’s one way of putting it.  She then said, “Well then I need to make an appointment.”

I encouraged her to seek out a primary care physician, before it’s too late.

I wouldn’t advise you to take your personal medical issues directly to a pathologist.  But when do you call a pathologist (or any other clinical medical professional) for your project development needs?

Sooner rather than later.

Clearly, if you’re contemplating a tissue-based assay, whether preclinical or part of a clinical trial, you are best served if you involve a pathologist on your team early on.  We are not just black box laboratory instruments.  We are known in medicine as the ”Doctor’s Doctor.”  Broad-based knowledge of pathophysiology is our hallmark.  We can help you out in defining your parameters, before you begin to collect the data.  That way, your data might be more meaningful.

There’s a lot of knowledge there that you can tap.  Even beyond the pathology-based tissue assays, there is an advantage in incorporating into your internal team someone who is scientifically literate and grounded in clinical medicine.  Watch out for and snap up those folks like that of any clinical discipline that you might come across.  Remember that when you are dealing with your clinical collaborators, they are working in a setting that is a great deal different than that in industry.  Be advised by someone with clinical experience.  After all, you hope to see your product ultimately made use of in the community.  You are best served when your team can understand the constraints under which your clinical collaborators are working and the opportunities there which could be developed.  A win-win for all.


  • Recognize that the culture and knowledge base of those in the clinic is different from that in industry.
  • Strategically plan for your product’s ultimate use in the clinic through all phases of development.
  • Seek clinical expertise for your team earlier rather late.