Bulletin January 2021 Number 193

Welcome to the January 2021 Bulletin. What an exceptionally stressful year, culminating in a rather non-festive and muted seasonal break with many other uncertainties yet to come.

I am of course delighted with the Bulletin theme of ‘Celebrating the pathology workforce’, which seems a particularly apt title to start this year. You no doubt agree that we need to recognise efforts and contributions across pathology, including both medical and scientific disciplines, at various stages of seniority, from different backgrounds and across the many specialties. I hope the various articles in this edition give a flavour of this intent and going forward we will need your help and continued input to this effect.

We are certainly encouraging young talent into pathology with great efforts at the foundation level and it is good to see the activity by members in promoting interest and awareness around careers bearing fruit (‘From Summer School to histopathology trainee’, pages 288–289). I am greatly impressed by progress of the training program developing consultant clinical scientists (pages 256–259), with this pathway now open to many more biomedical scientists.

Other articles across this edition demonstrate the multitude of efforts supporting the workforce in so many different ways (‘Celebration in challenging times’). This ranges from continuing professional development and supporting recruitment (pages 271–274), to the frankly heroic efforts of the Learning department and, indeed, College members as examiners in ensuring that examinations did go ahead during the pandemic (pages 265–267).

Some of the reflections of the outgoing Vice Presidents also give due acknowledgement to the wide breadth of College activities and the individuals involved in delivering these (pages 268–270).

I am pleased that the College is moving forward in considering differences in the make-up of our membership so that all are represented and supported accordingly. This seems a great start to meaningfully turning good intentions into action when talking about diversity and inclusion. I have high expectations of the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, and look forward to hearing about further progress.

COVID continues, not surprisingly, as an additional theme, with having to adapt in some way, be this in relation to smarter ways of working with rapid in-house testing (pages 292–293) or organising national or international virtual conferences (International Pathology Day, pages 286–287, Transfusion symposium, pages 310–311). Similarly, delivering National Pathology Week within the constraints of lockdown with even more verve and creativity than before truly demonstrates our great reserves and resilience (pages 279–280). I also read with considerable interest Simon Priestnall’s informative article ‘COVID-19 and lessons from the animals: a true One Health approach’, which urges closer collaboration between veterinary and medical scientists, clinicians and pathologists to help us predict and better prepare for emerging infections (pages 276–278). This is surely good advice that needs to be heeded?

The pandemic has had a major impact on the essential work being undertaken by charities, with the considerable funding shortfall also affecting Anthony Nolan (pages 299–300). The new Chief Medical and Scientific advisor outlines his vision for steering this charity towards its key goals at the core of the transplant community in the UK and globally serving patients of all backgrounds needing a matched donor.

The year 2020 will go down in history like no other for many of us in our lifetime so far. Our innate optimism must urge us to look forward and, of course, there is much on the horizon to be hopeful about.

Innovation in testing, vaccine development, education and learning and the sheer speed of delivery of high-quality clinical trials have all been breathtaking, with pathologists playing an essential role.

We will aim to cover various key ongoing advances in the Bulletin in 2021. Editions this year will focus on further advances in genomics, with some other broad themes emerging – namely, mother and child health, and cancer diagnosis, and then returning to the central theme of people and the workforce in pathology, just as the College turns 60 in 2022.

So, that’s the plan and no doubt we all hope that, as 2021 progresses, the year will become a bit calmer and more predictable. I'll happily raise a virtual glass to that thought.

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