The Neuropathology Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is designed to train academic neuropathologists. Because the definition of an academic neuropathologist is quite broad, the precise training program is variable and tailored to the individual fellow. Two years of ACGME accredited fellowship training can be supplemented with additional research training.
The clinical base of the program comprises the multiple campuses of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) (over 1500 medical surgical beds), the VA Medical Center (518 beds), and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (210 beds). UPMC sponsors the largest neurosurgical staff in the United States, including numerous centers for: Brain Trauma Research, Brain Tumor Surgery, Clinical Neurophysiology, Cranial Base Surgery, Image-Guided Neurosurgery, Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery, and Cerebrovascular/Stroke Institute. Neuropathology fellows work closely with the Neurosurgical staff and residents. For 2011 a total of 2931 neurosurgical procedures were performed. A total of 159 neurosurgical cases are performed annually at Children’s Hospital. Approximately 318 muscle and nerve biopsies and 306 autopsies are performed annually at both hospitals.
Members of the Division have extensive research collaborations with numerous local Centers and Departments (e.g. Neuropathology Core for the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Parkinson's Disease Center for Excellence, etc.) in addition to International collaborations (e.g. International Society of Neuropathology). Annual extramural funding of faculty is between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000.
Numerous teaching, clinical, and research conferences are held weekly. Autopsy brain-cutting conferences are consolidated into 3 hospitals. Quality assurance conference held weekly facilitates review of all interesting cases by clinically involved faculty, fellows, residents and students.
Given the variable and continually changing future definition of an academic neuropathologist, applicants are encouraged to define their career objectives and meet with the fellowship director to define their training program. Each fellow comes to the Division of Neuropathology with a unique academic background. The balance of clinical and research activities of each fellow are custom tailored for that individual's previous training. In some situations, individuals have already completed their clinical fellowship and are requesting research training. In other situations, individuals have completed Neurology, Neurosurgery or Anatomic Pathology training and are principally interested in clinical neuropathology training. As a general guideline each fellow hones their clinical skills with a full year devoted to adult and pediatric autopsy and surgical neuropathology.
The Neuropathology fellow is rapidly placed in charge of managing the clinical service under the supervision of one of the clinical faculty. Faculty supervision is rotated on a monthly basis, exposing the fellow to different clinical and research perspectives. Additional years of fellowship training depend upon an excellent performance in the defined clinical program. During subsequent years the fellow's clinical skills are maintained by participation in all clinical conferences including Quality Assurance where important clinical material is reviewed on a weekly basis. On average half of the fellows second year is committed to specialty rotations (4 months of a combination of neuromuscular, neurodegenerative and ophthalmic pathology, plus one month of combination forensic neuropathology and neuroradiology) and the other half to biomedical research. Each fellow may elect laboratory experience in modern techniques employed in the study of neurologic disease. Five of the Division of Neuropathology faculty members has funded research programs studying a variety of neurologic diseases. The fellow is free to work with any of these individuals or other University of Pittsburgh faculty (e.g. faculty in the departments of Neurosurgery, Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology, Neurosciences, Psychiatry).
In addition to exposure to a wide variety of techniques, the fellow learns supervisory skills for laboratory personnel. Along with traditional Journal clubs, fellows are expected to successfully participate in the review of manuscripts and grants. Each of these activities is carried out under the close supervision of a faculty member. Training beyond the second year is supported within individual faculty member's laboratories and targets the development of independent investigators.
Follow the link to learn more about the responsibilities of a Neuropathology Fellow.
Fellows complete a self evaluation on a quarterly basis and meet with the Division Director to discuss their progress and faculty evaluations. It is expected by the end of training that each fellow will be successful at competing for University based faculty positions. Criteria for evaluation include; capacity to gather and synthesize useful clinical information, present clinical and pathological information in a coherent and efficient fashion, perform a detailed and accurate gross and microscopic examination of neuropathologic material, develop a sound knowledge base, employ effective problem solving skills, work with allied staff and residents.
Clayton A. Wiley, MD, PhD
Director, Neuropathology Fellowship Program
Department of Pathology
8th Floor South Tower
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Office Center: 412-624-9415
Office Telephone: 412-624-0764