Bulletin July 2019 Number 187

Welcome to the July edition of our Bulletin, which looks at pathologists in unusual places.

It’s summertime: when many of us get out of the lab and head for the hills, the beach or box sets on the sofa. But for some pathologists, it’s the job that takes them to far-flung places, with no conventional labs or clinics, and with wide-ranging challenges. In this Bulletin theme (pp133–146), we hear from pathologists practising their medicine in war zones, tropical epidemics and humanitarian disasters. Their workplace might be a tent, submarine or African field vet clinic. We are also aware of a US veterinary pathologist who became an astronaut, proving that even the sky isn’t the limit when it comes to careers in pathology.

We continue to promote science to anyone old enough to take part. I ran a session on blood clotting and transfusion at a primary school (p149) and helped at the very successful sepsis stand at the Cambridge Science Festival, attended by the actor Warwick Davis – an ambassador for the Sepsis Trust (p150). These activities are so rewarding that you float out of them in a state of happy exhaustion. A novel idea for bored patients has now reached fruition in the form of a beautiful book of outline images of tissues and cells – Incredible You, produced by scientist-turned-artist Lizzie Burns – ready for colouring in, alongside patient-friendly text (p148). Now that it’s July, it’s time to start thinking about National Pathology Week in November – please see the ‘get involved’ pitch on p147 and, well, get involved!

Our daily practice evolves with society as well as science. On pp151–153, we hear from toxicology colleagues about the challenges of identifying new psychoactive substances in samples from patients and the deceased. Manufacturers of street drugs constantly produce new variants – how do we keep up? More optimistically, the addition of DNA sequence data to disease registries (pp154–155) adds a new dimension to population disease monitoring and can be of great help to families.

The College is proud to represent pathology across the four UK nations, and in this issue we illustrate all that being a chair of a regional council has to offer to those keen to broaden their horizons (p162). Further afield, there is an update on our collaboration with Ukrainian colleagues to provide support for pathology development (p163). We also report on the Medical Training Initiative, which is a great help for international trainees (pp164–165).

The benefits of international collaboration are showcased again on pp166–167, with a joint initiative to use digital pathology to deliver diagnostic services from Newcastle to a poorly resourced population in Malawi. Continuing the digital theme, our Bulletin trainee lead Tauseef Kapadi outlines his route through histopathology training into an out-of-programme attachment in digital pathology (p168). The trainee section of the College is flourishing, reflected by the amount and quality of material that crosses my desk. On pp168–169, we have an article on the important topic of independent reporting by trainees, and on p170–171 a description of the wonderful website for histopathology and academic trainees developed at the University of Leeds. It’s also great that medical students are excited by pathology. On pp171–172, there is an account from two Imperial College London students of their time spent in a histopathology department, which included observing post mortems – excellent!

We sadly include two appreciations in this issue. Professor Sir David Weatherall (p176) was a doyen of global haematology, with his work on haemoglobin and its variants underpinning a huge leap in the understanding of haemoglobinopathies. Dr Hugh Platt (p177) was College Director of Studies from 1999–2003, and I’m really delighted that our new Foundation essay prize is named after him.

The UK has yet another Nobel laureate. Cambridge’s Professor Sir Greg Winter was jointly awarded the 2018 prize in Chemistry for his work on the structure of human antibodies and how they can be modified for therapy. A summary of his work appears on p183.

Our book review and meeting sections continue to evolve. We would now like meeting reports to be written in ‘reflective learning’ mode – how did the meeting change your thinking or practice? The reports in this issue (pp184–188) are good examples of this. In addition to text books, we keep an eye out for other books we think you’ll enjoy. See an account of a fascinating career in normal and forensic anatomy by Professor Dame Sue Black and a journalistic account by Rose George of human blood, both its science and symbolism (p189). Either would make a good holiday read.

I hope you will find something of interest here to see you through the summer, even if we can’t compete with the Line of Duty box set (I recommend series 2 and 3). Have a wonderful holiday.