It is fall already and time to bring in the harvest. I’ve been so busy digging in the ASC garden this year that I missed the summer blog on growth! There is so much to tell you, but I want to take this time to focus on some planted seeds that produced a bountiful harvest. The rest of the news will have to wait until the 66th Annual Scientific Meeting.
The seeds that I want to highlight are individuals who were planted in the ASC, grew up being fertilized by its community, bloomed and influenced its members and spread their ideas and enthusiasm to far-flung places. They are the 2018 ASC Achievement Awardees, and I want to introduce you to some very special people.
The first two individuals, winners of the President’s Award, represent two pillars in cytotechnology – the academic cytotechnologist and the practicing cytotechnologist.
Nearly everyone knows the name Gary W. Gill, BA, CT(ASCP), a 1964 graduate of The Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Cytotechnology and famous for the invention of Gill’s hematoxylin, the standard stain used worldwide for cytology and histology. Mr. Gill worked at Johns Hopkins until 1987, when he changed career paths to work for EI du Pont de Nemours and Company. In 1998, he changed careers again, working as the Compliance Officer for the Diagnostic Cytology Laboratories in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Gill was the quintessential academic/research cytotechnologist, always investigating new ways to improve cytology. He invented the Enviro-Pap (an environmentally friendly Pap stain that minimized the use of toxic chemicals), a modified ectocervical collection device to enhance retrieval of endocervical cells, and a screening device to ensure consistent slide overlapping. And if you don’t own it yet, you should; he produced the definitive text on “Cytopreparation: Principles and Practice,” to help all of us address processing problems. He has over 200 publications, has given 163 lectures and workshops, and was the go-to guy on the ASC Listserv for all things related to cytology processing.
At my first ASC Annual Meeting, I was asked who I wanted to meet most, and my response was unhesitant: “Gary Gill!” He had been so helpful to me in correcting Pap staining problems in my career. If you can’t read the slide, you can’t make an interpretation. Mr. Gill was always generous with his time and knowledge; he served on numerous ASC committees and was an associate editor of The ASC Bulletin. He was known as the “cytogoogle” of the ASC and that aptly summarizes the indelible mark that he made on cytology. Unfortunately, we lost Mr. Gill this year. We extend our deepest condolences, and thanks, to his family for this treasure of a person. He will be sorely missed.
On the other end of the cytotechnologist spectrum is Leigh Buckner, BA, SCT(ASCP)IAC, one of the unsung heroes of cytology. He’s one of those ASC members who never calls attention to himself, but works behind the scenes to make a big difference in the lives of people around him. Mr. Buckner also graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Cytotechnology. He founded the Metropolitan Washington Association of Cytology and has served on numerous ASC committees. He spent most of his career as the cytology supervisor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, where he met his wife, Sally Beth Buckner, also a committed ASC member (and former ASC Executive Board member). During his career at Walter Reed, Mr. Buckner modernized the cytopathology service by introducing liquid-based technology, digital screening, HPV and FISH testing as well as the Bethesda System and other standardized cytology terminology. He would return from the ASC meetings, just brimming with enthusiasm and energy to make some changes based on what he learned. And he did it! But Mr. Buckner’s special gift is for recruiting people into cytopathology and mentoring them when they get there. As one example, he encouraged his cytology processing technician to become a cytotechnologist, and now she is the cytology supervisor at Walter Reed. He knows how to identify strengths in people and put them to work for the good of the whole. He is also a connector, one of those rare individuals who knows everyone and connects people to each other to stimulate opportunities for personal growth. There are countless cytotechnologists and pathologists who would not be where they are today, including myself, without those gentle nudges and encouragement from Leigh. He continues to serve as a mentor to people to this day. I know he is proud to represent all of you, ASC members who show up each day at your jobs and change the face of cytology through those interactions with your colleagues, just as he had done his entire career. I am honored to give him this award in recognition of his unfailing service to others.
Ritu Nayar, MD is the deserving recipient of the 2018 Papanicolaou Award, the highest award given by our Society. There is not enough space in this blog to hold all of her accomplishments, but you may know her best from her work as an editor of The Bethesda System for Reporting Cervical Cytology. Dr. Nayar completed a Pathology Residency and Surgical Pathology Fellowship at George Washington University, and a Cytopathology fellowship at the University of Rochester before joining the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where she is now Professor/Vice Chair of Pathology Education and Faculty Development and the Director of Cytopathology. Dr. Nayar has advocated for cytopathology as a leader and committee member for over 25 years, for no fewer than 9 professional organizations, which include the international cytology community. It is due to her efforts as a prior ASC President that we have such a strong cooperative relationship with sister organizations.
She has been involved in formulating practice guidelines for cervical cancer screening and patient management and in developing proficiency testing, CME and board certification for pathologists. She is a scholar with over 250 publications and uncountable numbers of lectures. But let me tell you about the Dr. Nayar I know. She has boundless energy and a “can do”….. no, “must do” outlook on life. An email at 2 am? Must be from Ritu. She injects life into every gathering with her contagious laugh and sense of humor, yet she commands respect as a leader and knows how to get things done. She truly has given selflessly to cytopathology and patient care. She is a monumental role model for all who will stand on her shoulders.
The Cytotechnologist Award for Outstanding Achievement is an award recognizing meritorious service to the field of cytopathology, and Beverly Haigler-Daly, BS, CT(ASCP) is honored with the award this year. She graduated from the Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Cytotechnology and was inspired by her contacts at the ASC to become involved with professional organizations to transform cytology. She served as the chair of the ASC Cytotechnology Advisory Committee from 1991-1992 and participated in the ASC Future of Cytopathology Summit in 2009. Ms. Haigler-Daly has served on numerous ASC committees, provided multiple presentations and workshops, and has not missed an ASC Annual Scientific meeting since 1980. She is currently the Executive Director of the American Society of Cytotechnology Services and was a founding member of the ASCT and the North Carolina Society of Cytology. I was recently at an Advanced Cytopathology Education (ACE) meeting with Beverly, and what impressed me most about her was her collegial interaction with cytotechnology students and how she made sure that they were introduced to speakers and made to feel like a part of the community. She is a true renaissance woman who has held multiple positions in leadership, management, teaching and advocacy, and so deserving of this award for her contributions to cytopathology.
Claire W. Michael, MD is the recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Education Award. Dr. Michael completed a pathology residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan and a cytopathology fellowship at Wayne State University. She is currently a Professor of Pathology and the Director of the Cytopathology Fellowship and Lead of Faculty Professional Development and Mentorship at the Case Western Reserve University- University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. If you’ve ever attended any of Dr. Michael’s workshops, you know that she excels at summarizing the pertinent points and providing pearls of wisdom to help your practice. She is a passionate advocate for diagnostic cytopathology and an expert in serous effusions, serving as editor of two effusion textbooks and writing multiple book chapters.
She chaired the ASC Progressive Evaluation of Competency Examination Committee for 7 years, establishing a valuable resource for program directors to measure trainee performance. Although her legacy in cytopathology education may be most enduring through her publications, including over 100 manuscripts and 18 book chapters, she is most endearing due to her daily interaction with her students. She has trained over 40 fellows and hundreds of residents; many of you may have benefited from her excellent and succinct teaching methods. This award recognizes the personal commitment and long hours that she has given to training and inspiring future cytology leaders, one of the most important services that any member can give to the Society.
All of us spread seeds of inspiration or extend roots and shoots that produce new growth, and these individuals are exceptional and have influenced many lives. I often wish that all of us could be recognized for our small individual influences, and then I realize that we are, by the people surrounding us every day. We just don’t know it yet.