Cytology Shark Tank Comes to Phoenix!

As many of you know, one of my goals as your President is to encourage and support our talented young members who want to do research in cytology. This is a crucial investment: they’re the ones who will lead the profession forward, finding new applications for the cytologic method. Along with education and advocacy, research is one of the key missions of our Society.

In this regard, I’m delighted to announce that we’ve received 12 proposals for the $50,000 research grant that will be awarded at the Annual Scientific Meeting in Phoenix this November. This first-ever “Cytology Shark Tank” event, modeled after competitions like “Project Runway” and “Shark Tank,” will feature three finalists. The members of the ASC Research and Current Concepts Committee, chaired by Dr. Liron Pantanowitz (University of Pittsburgh), are currently reviewing the proposals to select the three finalists, who will make their pitch to a panel of judges on Saturday, November 11th from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The judges will be Drs. Douglas Clark (University of New Mexico), Martha Pitman (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School), Celeste Powers (Virginia Commonwealth University), and David Rimm (Yale University).

The 12 proposals have come from across the United States: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

The three finalists will be offered an additional benefit: a weekend workshop in Chicago a month or so prior to the Phoenix meeting. The workshop will be coordinated by Ms. Heather Barnes, whom some of you saw at the New Orleans meeting last year. She gave a delightful and instructive presentation entitled “Taking a Stand: Using Improv to Teach Science and Medicine.” Ms. Barnes will spend a day with the finalists, helping them develop their presentation skills using improv methods – skills like responding in the moment, connecting with others, and managing questions. For all three finalists, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they will leave Chicago with a toolkit of resources for further professional development.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the first-ever “Cytology Shark Tank” event in Phoenix in November. Come and support our three finalists and help shape the future of our profession!


The Search for New Knowledge


Edmund S. Cibas, MD

It’s a privilege to serve as your President: The ASC has been MY Society since my fellowship year (don’t ask how long ago…), and I’m eager to do my best for all of you. One of my goals is to encourage and support our talented young members who want to do research in cytology. This is a crucial investment:  they’re the ones who will lead the profession forward, finding new applications for the cytologic method.

I’m grateful to the ASC Foundation for sharing this goal and offering a $50,000 Young Investigator Grant for a research proposal related to cytopathology. I hope you’ve all seen the announcement that was sent out via the ASC Listserv. It’s also highlighted on the ASC website. To qualify, you have to be an ASC member and no more than 10 years out from training. Cytotechnologists and cytopathologists are eligible. (See link above for detailed eligibility requirements and application information.) The deadline for applications is April 15th.

If you qualify, I encourage you to apply! If not, please encourage your eligible colleagues to sharktank_300submit a proposal. The proposals will be carefully reviewed and three finalists will be selected by the Research and Current Concepts Committee.  To add to the excitement, the winner will be selected at a live event during our Annual Scientific Meeting in Phoenix this November – the new “Cytology Shark Tank” event, modeled after competitions like “Project Runway” and “Shark Tank,” with the finalists presenting their proposals to a panel of judges.

The finalists will be offered an additional benefit: a weekend workshop in Chicago prior to the Annual Scientific Meeting. The workshop will be coordinated by Heather Barnes, of the Museum of Science and Industry and Second City, whom some of you saw at the New Orleans meeting. She gave a delightful and instructive presentation entitled “Taking a Stand: Using Improv to Teach Science and Medicine.” Ms. Barnes will spend a day with the finalists, helping them develop their presentation skills using improv methods – skills like responding in the moment, connecting with others, and managing questions.  Are you shy, afraid of improv and workshops like this in general? Have no fear!  Ms. Barnes’ workshop will be conducted in a supportive environment. She’s designed exercises that help participants develop increased confidence presenting in front of large scale audiences.  For all three finalists, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they will leave Chicago with a toolkit of resources to use for their own further development.

Do you have questions about the proposal requirements and expectations? You can email them to:

Spread the word, and please come to the first-ever “Cytology Shark Tank” event to cheer on our three finalists!

An Opportunity for You to Tell Your Favorite Cytology Story

An Opportunity for You to Tell Your Favorite Cytology Story
Guest Blogger – Rosemary Tambouret, MD
Co-Chair, Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee

We need your help in spreading the word on the value of cytology to the general public and Tambouret Phototo our colleagues in other medical specialties; therefore, we have begun a new program that we hope you will embrace enthusiastically.

In January 2016, each ASC Committee was tasked by Dr. Wojick with selection of an initiative to focus on during the year. Since one of the Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee charges is to provide information on cytopathology to the public, we decided to ask each committee member to write an essay on some aspect of cytology important to them. On reflection, we thought why not open this creative challenge to all ASC members. And to really get your creative side revved up, in lieu of an essay, submit a poem, a slide show or a short video about you and cytology. A haiku verse might work for you, or how about a short animated movie? The piece can be serious or light hearted, you be the judge. Here are some topics just to get you thinking:

• Experiences with even an oblique tie to cytology
• How being a cytologist has expanded your world
• Interactions with patients and/or clinicians linked your work as a cytologist
• Episodes in the FNA clinic
• How your career in cytology began and developed.

Here is an example of a Haiku verse:

Switch on the light bulb
Swirl the knob to focus so the
Cells can tell their story

We will publish the works in print or on the Web site for professionals and for the general public. Wouldn’t it be great to do a Google search on cytology and have your creation pop up?

We urge you to submit your creations by August 15, 2016, using the button below.
submit your creation button

All entries will be displayed on the ASC Web site and the best will be honored at the Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans. The very best will be awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.

We look forward to your creation!

Value adds. . .

Kristin Atkins, MD, Scientific Program Committee, ChairAtkins, Kristen 6-2015
Guest Blogger

Value adds positive outcome to an experience. Part of my personal mission of being Scientific Program Committee, Chair is to recognize what we do as individuals for patients, coworkers, and trainees and add components to the Annual Scientific Meeting that provide venues to make all of these aspects even better.  The 2016 Meeting is being constructed and aims to:

  1. Provide hands- on training and group discussions to encourage diagnosis at a high standard,
  2. Give individuals confidence in their abilities, and
  3. Provide opportunities that allow for reflection and camaraderie.

The majority of us still love the beauty of cells and you could see the joy in morphology last year at the microscopic workshops and virtual microscopy sessions.  They were filled to capacity and ended with attendees still viewing slides.   This year, we have increased the number of sessions and the time in each workshop to accommodate this popular learning venue.  The workshops on communication and leadership received the highest scores last year and we are bringing them back and adding to them this year.  We are sprinkling these opportunities throughout the meeting so that more members can participate.  We are adding mini workshops to some of the evenings.  These are one-hour discussions on focused topics that will be an after-dinner treat.

In 1999, I attended my first ASC Meeting by myself as a resident.  At that time, there were not that many trainees and, to tell you the truth, it was a rather lonely experience.  This is in stark contrast to one year later when I attended under the wing of my fellowship director.  I met so many cytotechnologists and cytopathologists in Kansas City.  What was apparent was the mutual appreciation between technologists and pathologists and the support given to me to get involved in the Society.  The difference in the two meetings was impactful.  Last year we strived to provide more venues for trainees by creating Trainee Enrichments sessions.  These free sessions covered a variety of topics given in a casual setting so that trainees could connect with ASC members and each other.  My favorite evaluation from these stated, “The trainee enrichment sessions gave me a home.  The faculty was so kind and encouraging.  Best part of the meeting.”  We value the young members and want to encourage more attendance.  For our cytotechnology students and cytotechnologists in their first 3 years, we are also offering a free session of hands-on rapid onsite adequacy practice.

I was listening to an actress give tips to an acting class and she kept saying, “It’s not about you, it’s about your audience.”  I think this has to be the mantra of the Scientific Program Committee.

  • What do our attendees need?
  • What venues work best?
  • What will encourage more participation
  • What will bring value to their meeting experience?

One focus this year is to increase the number of sessions included in the general registration fee.  Every session has been scrutinized as to whether it is broadly informational and therefore pertinent to the entire cohort (and; therefore, rolled into the registration cost).  We have more panel updates on nomenclature and practice such as with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas and breast cytology, as well as free sessions on FNA technique and practical molecular information all in rooms that can accommodate large audiences.  We sometimes have multiple free offerings so that members may choose which topic is most relevant to their practice.  Our guest speakers will cover topics ranging from genomics and personalized medicine to social health issues.

There are small break out sessions aimed to highlight us as individuals and what value we each bring to our profession (how nice to focus on what you are doing right and what you are doing well).

Of course, one of the nicest parts about the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting is connecting with friends and expanding our cytology family.  We are expanding the time allocated for the Exhibitor Hall and working with the ASC Foundation for the showing of a movie on the HPV epidemic.  The Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans will be the headquarters is well thought out and the meeting rooms, exhibit hall, and meeting rooms are all close together making for extremely easy navigation.

I would like to highlight the value I am experiencing from the Scientific Program Committee to bring an incredible Meeting to you this November.  This group has already put in over 100 volunteer hours and they are approaching this Meeting with such excitement and thoughtfulness.  My job is simple as they are all invested in bringing you value in 2016 in hopes that you leave eager for the 2017 Meeting!

Message from the ASC President – Eva M. Wojcik, MD

It seems like it was just yesterday that we met in Chicago for our Annual Scientific

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC

Meeting, and it’s already February. Right after the Meeting the holiday season arrived with parties, potlucks, preparations, gift wrapping and everywhere work/projects were put slightly aside. In January, we all had to pay for the holiday season and catch up with our work. Although it seems illogical to do this, we all know we will repeat this cycle this year and all the years to come!

However, this does not mean that no work has been done at ASC. Holidays or no holidays, the regular Society’s activities are taking place. Since the last Annual Scientific Meeting, over 30 calls/committee meetings took place! I am in constant contact with our ASC National Office, having scheduled weekly calls with Beth Jenkins, our Executive Director. To ensure a smooth transition of the presidency, the Officers are equally involved. We have monthly calls to discuss and review all pertinent issues and events. For many committees, this has almost been the busiest time of the year. The best example is the Scientific Program Committee that has already met formally or informally five times.

In Chicago, I promised to “keep you in the loop.” We will use this blog to be a platform informing you throughout the year about the Society’s activities. Starting next month, we will have regular updates from main committees with the first report from the Scientific Program Committee. As you may remember, each committee was charged with identifying a specific project that the Committee will be concentrating on this year. Many exciting initiatives have been identified and a steady progress is being achieved and will be shared with the entire membership on this platform. Also, I asked all committee members to provide questions for our very successful Progressive Evaluation of Competency (PEC) program. I am happy to report that over 160 new questions have been submitted to the PEC Committee for their review and approval.

I am also happy to report the ASC-ASCP Workgroup’s flagship project – Advanced Cytopathology Education (ACE) course preparation is practically finalized. The program is exciting and will encourage participation of many local cytotechnologists, pathologists, residents, fellows and students. The two-day cytopathology education program speakers will be almost all of our well-known prominent ASC Executive Board members making the meeting more attractive.

Coming back to our Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, a number of new exciting initiatives will take place. In the next blog, the Chair of the Scientific Program Committee, Dr. Kristin Atkins, will share the Committee’s plans or New Orleans to motivate you to attend this event.  One of my Presidency’s initiative and theme is concentrating on “What is Your Value?” The 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting will be a platform for you to share your story, your data and your research. All of us have a “story”: How did we improve our processes? How did we become more visible in our department, institution or hospital? How does our presence and our skills directly improve patient outcome? So, come to New Orleans and TELL US YOUR STORY!

Please, stay tuned for more information.

Message from Dr. Eva Wocjik, the ASC President

It is my greatest honor to serve you and the Society as your President, and I am looking

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC  Loyola University Medical Center Maywood, Illinois

Eva M. Wojcik, MD, MIAC

forward to working with and for you in the upcoming year. The customary objective of the President’s Message is to describe the future and what is ahead for the Society. Of course, I do not hold a crystal ball in my hands and cannot predict all potential unexpected events; however, I am certain that whatever happens, we will be successful in this coming year simply because we all hold our future in our hands.

As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” and that is what we’ll do this year – we will create our future! We also have to keep in mind what Theodore Roosevelt did say: “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” Therefore, what we do know:

  • We have a strong Foundation – Cytology is relevant today more then ever. We are the best suited to provide a diagnosis on minimal amount of material that is obtained in a least traumatic way.
  • We have a proven record – When we say “We Save Lives One Cell at a Time,” we mean it. This is not an empty slogan – that is what we do, every single day!
  • Our Membership is strong, dependable and growing.
  • We have a solid structure – our Bylaws are effective and our National Office is composed of people who devote their careers and lives to this Society.
  • We are financially stable due to the prudent stewardship of previous ASC Presidents and the Executive Board.
  • We are flexible and we can adapt – our Strategic Plan is being reviewed constantly and adjusted as needed to address new, unpredicted changes in our health care environment.
  • We are very proud of and committed to the Society – after all, the ASC is OUR Society.

Success Starts with Opportunity

The ASC has been MY Society for a quarter of the century. Exactly 25 years ago, I attended my first ASC Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, DC. That was one of the proudest moments in my life. Just a few years earlier, I arrived in this country not speaking any English and then at this national meeting, I am a senior pathology resident presenting two posters! From day one, the ASC gave me an opportunity and that continued through all those years. Considering that “success starts with opportunity,” when it was time to work on committee appointments, I have followed these guiding principles: opportunity for everyone, inclusion, transparency, rules, and accountability. From the beginning my goal was to include all members who have volunteered through the Call for Volunteers. In order to achieve this, in most cases no multiple appointments were made and Executive Board members were not appointed to serve on other committees this year; however, Board members will have advisory roles as liaisons between the Board and their assigned committees.

I am very happy to report that whoever volunteered, 100% became a member of a committee! We made 95 new appointments out of 246 committee members (38.6%). Each committee has defined responsibilities, initiatives and charges according to the updated Strategic Plan. In addition, I asked each committee to identify a specific, measurable goal to be completed by the end of one year. Each project has to follow the “3T” rules: what is the final measurable Target, what is the Timeline and what is the Team responsible for individual milestones? I plan to write a Presidential Blog to keep you informed on the progress of our committees’ work.

In addition, each member of a committee will be expected to provide at least one question for the Progressive Evaluation of Competency (PEC) question pool. Of course, those members who have any conflicts of interest would be exempt. Also, each member will serve as an ad hoc reviewer for our journal, Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology (JASC). Therefore, there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to serve our Society.

Theme – What’s your value?

I am not sure if you know, but once you are the President-Elect, everyone will ask you: What will be the theme for your presidency? For many months, I have been thinking, what will be my theme, what will be my theme? Considering all the changes around us while we are entering into a value based health care, the logical question coming to our minds is – what is our value and, the most important one, how to measure it? Currently, we are living in the “world of dashboarding.” Everything is measured and tracked, therefore, how to dashboard our value? How to translate our values into numbers? Many may see this as a challenge, but for me, I see an opportunity, opportunity for research.

So, I challenge you – provide basis, evidence for our value. Think outside the box; think about downstream effects of your contributions. For example, how your timely diagnosis affected the length of stay (LOS) or patient satisfaction. Use any opportunity to present your data locally, show your colleagues how your work positively influences patients’ outcome. Most importantly, we have to publish these data. We have to remember, published evidence-based data is the basis for any new guidelines, regulations, reimbursement, codes, etc. Therefore, let’s gather in New Orleans at our next Annual Scientific Meeting and share all these data with each other. I will work with the Scientific Program Committee to ensure a venue to exchange our experiences.

But that is not enough……remember, our future is in our hands; therefore, we have to become visible and become advocates for our profession, for ourselves. It is time to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It is time to get out of our “basements,” from behind our familiar, comfortable microscopes and tell everyone who we are and what our value is. We have to meet patients, most importantly talk to them, tell them that based on our diagnosis they can be treated, they can be healed.

We also have to remember, we are part of the Pathology family and we share visions and goals of our sister societies, and we also face common challenges. The scope of practice changes will affect all of us regardless of specialty or the level of training. What keeps us apart from others is that indeed we are taking the future in our hands and working on defining and discovering new career pathways. We are putting our words into action and we see the first results of our inter-societies collaborations. The best example is the work of the ASC/ASCP Workgroup, “Focusing on Emerging Role of Cytotechnology” and their very successful launch of an Advanced Cytopathology Education (ACE). The next ACE will take place on May 21-22, 2016 at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago.

New Strategic Plan

We have been very proud to follow our robust and visionary plan initiated in 2012 by our previous President, Dr. Lydia Howell and recently extensively updated under the leadership of Dr. Ritu Nayar and Dr. Michael Henry. However, it is time to take a more critical look and, most importantly, evaluate our current Strategic Plan’s relevance in the context of incoming changes in the health care environment. This could not be more relevant today, particularly in the context of a recently released Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” The report was released on the 15th anniversary of the first IOM report, “To Err is Human” that transformed the way we think about the patient safety. The current report concentrates on diagnostic errors, and it proposes aspirational goals of improving the diagnostic process and gives concrete recommendations for major systems and process changes. Our goal will be to keep those recommendations as guiding principles and align our new Strategic Plan accordingly. This work will be lead by Dr. Michael Cohen, Professor and Vice Chair at the University of Utah who was one of 21 members of the IOM committee that created that report. The progress of this work will be presented on this forum.

WATTBAC – What A Time To Be A Cytologist!

In summary, exciting times and projects are ahead of us. We are extremely well positioned with our natural and historical team approach to patient care and, most importantly, with our proactive approach to our future. This is the time of opportunities for our profession and our Society!

Message from the ASC President

What an honor it is to have been elected to the presidency of the American Society of Michael Henry - ASC PresidentCytopathology. This organization has been central in my professional life for almost 30 years. Many of my friends and mentors have been Presidents of the ASC, and I feel extremely privileged to join their ranks. The ASC has grown and changed significantly since I first joined right out of residency. Over the years these changes have strengthened the organization and put it on a path, which should lead to continued success. As an example, it is interesting that my presidency came from changes made many years ago when we moved to a competitive election for officers, which allowed the members to select from at least two nominees rather than a single candidate. While I did not win the first time I was nominated, I became part of a growing group of well-qualified members with experience and expertise who could be tapped by the Nominating Committee for possible election. Overall, these electoral changes have resulted in a stronger electoral process and demonstrated the wisdom of the Officers and Members who made the changes.

Change and innovation are integral to the message I want to convey in this letter to the ASC membership. All of the messages written by the last several Presidents have talked about the changes that medicine is undergoing and how they may affect the field of cytology and the ASC. We live in an exciting and sometimes uncertain time of growth, new knowledge and innovative techniques, many of which will transform the way we practice medicine. Transformational forces come not only from the scientific side but also from the regulatory and business side of medicine. We are moving away from private practice – fee for service medicine – and no one is sure where this will lead. It is certain, however, that for the foreseeable future cytology will be a valuable part of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine.

The field of cytopathology is unique. In an age when most of pathology is subspecializing into smaller and smaller areas of expertise, cytology remains a generalist field. Cytologic specimens are derived from the entire gamut of tissue and disease. The range of specimens that we utilize is vast, derived from fine needle aspiration, fluids, brushes, washes, core biopsies or any other technique, which yields small tissue samples. To be a good cytopathologist requires knowledge that spans across all of the anatomic pathology specialties and even many of the clinical areas. This generalist background is one of the strengths of cytopathology, which will keep us relevant far into the future. But at the same time, we will need to work to keep this relevance and not let some of these collection techniques become the provenance of subspecialists.

Collaborative efforts between the ASC and other pathology and medical organizations will be necessary to move our agenda forward on a national basis. Under the leadership of our most recent Past Presidents we now have working arrangements or memorandums of understanding with many of the national pathology and other medical organizations. We will continue to make overtures with these and other organizations to collaborate in areas where it makes sense. We are the repository of vast experience in cytologic methods, diagnostic techniques and education. The ASC must be involved with any organization that is making decisions or recommendations where cytology is concerned.

In 2012, under the leadership of Dr. Lydia Powell the ASC Executive Board (EB) developed a new Strategic Plan, which was implemented along with an updated vision and mission statement. This Strategic Plan contained specific goals and benchmarks as well as strategies to accomplish them. Most recently, at the last Board Meeting the EB reviewed the plan to see how well we have accomplished these goals and to write new ones as appropriate. My next President’s Blog will detail the results of this review.

Finally, there are a couple issues that are foremost in my mind and that will need to be addressed in the near future. These are the future role of the cytotechnologist in the laboratory and the role of cytopathology in the field of molecular testing.

The Future Cytotechnologist

We know that primary GYN screening using Pap tests will continue to decrease. During the past year the long anticipated clearance for primary HPV testing with cytology as the reflex test was approved by the FDA. While this is concerning to many in the field, there has been no rush to start this testing on the part of primary care clinicians. As with most new techniques, this type of testing will slowly work its way into the field; and it is still unknown how quickly it will be accepted.

We have known this was coming for some time. The ASC and other organizations are already looking at how the field of cytotechnology will and should evolve as Pap screening becomes a smaller portion of the work cytotechnologists perform. At this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting, the CPRC presented the results of meetings to develop a professional scope of practice for a proposed mid-level pathology practitioner for the field of cytopathology. Over the next year we will work with the CPRC, ASCP, CAP, and ASCT on this concept, especially directed to determining the need for this type of practitioner through a detailed practice analysis. In the meantime, we will also look at how to help current cytotechnologists transition to new technologies from their primary screening roles.

While we still do not have a clear idea of the cytology workforce over the next several years there are worries that the cytotechnologists are aging and that given the small overall numbers in the profession a workforce deficiency is certainly a possibility. There is already a definite shortage of laboratory professionals in areas such as histotechnology and molecular biology and with the steadily decreasing number of cytotechnology schools, now down to only 25 active programs, cytotechnology may also be facing a similar shortage. The recent partnership with the ASCP, ASCT and CAP to provide membership to the CPRC as well as the development of the Cytology Education Learning Lab (CELL) will help to develop the new curriculums that will be needed to provide the innovative education for our cytotechnology students.

I would like to finish this section by talking about the role the Mayo Clinic has taken in redefining the practice of cytotechnology. Over the past 15 years, we have pioneered the use of cytotechnologists to perform many somewhat non-traditional tasks. We have leveraged the cytotechnologist morphology training to utilize them in the screening of FISH cases on cytologic preparations, digital analysis of breast prognostic markers on tissue, analysis of circulating tumor cells and most recently initial review of tissue for molecular studies. This is in addition to the more traditional roles of on-site evaluation of FNA specimens and screening of non-GYN cytology. We have moved away from GYN screening as the primary CT role as our numbers of GYN Pap tests have decreased. Currently, Pap screening involves less than 10% of our technologist workload but we have actually increased the number of cytotechnologists needed to support the laboratory’s needs. We have found that all of this has made economic sense for our laboratory as it has freed up the pathologists to do their job more efficiently. Will this work in other settings? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do believe that as the business of pathology changes, this type of innovative use of qualified cytotechnologists will become more common.

Cytology and Molecular Pathology

We are currently entering a new era of medicine based on molecular techniques used for diagnosis, therapy and the monitoring of treatment response and disease progression. As I mentioned above, the field of cytopathology is unique in the breadth of specimens that we handle and utilize. Many of these specimens can and are being used for molecular testing of many types. This past year the ASC worked closely with the Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology (PSC) to develop a joint position statement on the use of molecular testing on cytologic specimens. This position statement was approved by the ASC Executive Board at the Annual Scientific Meeting in Dallas. Over the next year the two organizations are also writing a white paper on molecular testing on cytologic specimens that will flesh out the details on many of these techniques and how they can be applied to our practice.

It is obvious that multidisciplinary collaboration will be needed in the effective utilization of these molecular techniques in cytologic specimens. Many molecular tests need to be performed in specialized laboratories and the cytopathologist will be the intermediary between the clinician collecting the sample and the performing laboratory. In those instances cytopathologists and cytotechnologists are well placed to work with clinicians to determine the on-site adequacy of specimens and determine the appropriate triage for the most effective use of small samples. Other molecular tests such as FISH analysis can be performed directly on cytologic preparations such as is currently done for urinary tract cytology and biliary or esophageal brushings. In my opinion, these samples are best interpreted by cytotechnologists trained in FISH techniques. Their morphologic experience in interpreting cytologic preparations makes them the obvious choice to select the appropriate cells for FISH analysis on smears or liquid based preparations.

There are more challenges because of the broad gamut of our tissue samples. We not only have tissue fixed in formalin and paraffin embedded (FFPE) but have samples that are fixed in alcohol and smeared or prepped as thin layer samples. As noted in the position statement: “Given the versatility of cytopreparatory techniques, the development and careful validation of molecular assays for these platforms is important.” The next several years will be a time of growth and greater understanding of which molecular techniques have clinical importance and how we as cytopathologists and cytotechnologists will fit into this burgeoning field. It will be vitally important that the ASC takes a primary role making sure our members are ready to move into the molecular era.

In summary, these are fast changing and exciting times full of challenges to our membership. I will be working with the Officers, Executive Board and the Committees to ensure that the ASC will continue to move in a positive direction to meet these challenges. My challenge to the ASC Members, Officers and Committees is to take the ASC vision to heart and look for innovative ways to grow/move the ASC forward in these turbulent times. Let me know about your ideas. While the Officers, Executive Board and Committee leaders have a wealth of knowledge and expertise, we don’t have all of the answers or specific ideas for projects, educational tools or new ways of doing things. Your contributions can be large or small; it doesn’t matter as long as you are an active participant in the organization. Volunteer – we are always looking for new members to add to the committees or other activities but we can’t use you unless we know who you are. Forms for volunteers are located on the ASC Web site. You are never too young or inexperienced so don’t be shy. We all started somewhere and who knows, someday you may be writing this message yourself.

Michael R. Henry, MD