This quotation is sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin but it is unlikely that he ever said or wrote it. The ideas probably derive from the Xunzi, Chinese philosophical writings of the 3rd century BC (www.wikiquotes.com). Franklin was a printer by trade, a scientist and inventor by inclination and one of the founders of the United States.
Clearly an advocate of continuous personal and professional development, his comment that “people who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages” should be the stimulus for all members of the College to be outward looking and to educate themselves and others in the joys of pathology.
The Xunzi are attributed to Xun Kuang, who distinguishes between what is born in man and what must be learned through rigorous education. In translation, he affirms that “to distinguish between things that are the same and those that are different, one must use one’s senses to understand a thing and then compare it to understandings of other things. From these observations, names can be given based on the sameness or difference between things.” Xun Kuang would have appreciated the modern cellular pathologist with an interest in genomic medicine.
The cover illustration shows fasciation in Veronicastrum sp. Fasciation (Latin fascia – a strip) is the process in which the normally conical flower spikes are expanded, flattened and deformed. This is most probably through the interactions of mutation, viral infection and other environmental factors affecting microRNAs, signalling pathways, apoptosis and mitosis in the shoot apical meristem (Russian J Plant Physiol 2012;59:530).
The genetic theme of the Bulletin is continued as the philosophical strategy and impact of the establishment of genomics medicine centres becomes evident. Professor Sue Hill, the Chief Scientific Officer, describes the national strategy behind these centres. Following this, the lead scientists at two centres illustrate the challenges and successes of recruiting patients and obtaining samples for whole-genome sequencing for rare diseases and, more recently, for cancers.
For genomics medicine to be sustainable, we need doctors and scientists to be trained to do the detailed work, and for all healthcare professionals to be sufficiently informed that they can apply genomic information to patient management. The recent launch of the medical undergraduate curriculum is highlighted which, when implemented, should provide a good foundation for the education and practice of all doctors.
Postgraduate curricula for histopathology and veterinary pathology support further professional developments in molecular and research skills. Debate is invited, through the letters pages, on the potential roles of clinical scientists in cellular and molecular pathology.
What can we learn from the dead?
The technological advances that allow imaging-assisted autopsies are outlined by Dr David Bailey and the impact of this technology on a group of enthusiastic medical students at the Summer School is obvious from their articles. The topic will be revisited in future issues of The Bulletin.
The College is fortunate to have attracted several new directors this year and three of them introduce themselves in this issue. Philip Cachia and Andrew Day, Directors of Training and Examinations respectively, are driving the strategies that will support the learning agenda. Lorna Williamson, the Director of Publishing and Engagement, will help us to spread the messages on the importance of learning. All Fellows can take advantage of a range of meetings organised by the College; ideas for new meetings are always welcome.
Writing this from the European Congress of Pathology in Belgrade, I wonder why so few UK based pathologists are here; I hope to see more UK participants in Cologne in September 2016. It has been an honour and a pleasure to edit this issue of The Bulletin. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have done.