The ASC Foundation helps support the ASC’s high quality education at Annual Scientific Meetings, distance learning through webinars and internet-based educational programs, and support for cytopathology training programs.

ASC Foundation Grants Support State and Regional Cytology Organizations

The purpose of this $1,000 grant is to make funds available to State and Regional Organizations (SROs) to use for local continuing education projects. The ASC Foundation grants assist in directly promoting accessible local continuing education for cytology practitioners through SROs.  The 2017 State and Regional Cytology Organization Grant Awardees:

Some of the attendees at the Rutgers 1st Cytotechnology Education Conference. Photo courtesy of Johanna Dovale-Gomez

Some of the attendees at the Rutgers 1st Cytotechnology Education Conference. Photo courtesy of Johanna Dovale-Gomez

Rutgers University, Rutgers School of Health Related Professions
Lois Rockson, MPH, MA, SCT(ASCP)

On a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning in June, cytotechnologists from New York, New Jersey and as far as Louisiana and California travelled to Rutgers School of Health Professions campus in Newark, New Jersey for Rutgers Cytotechnology Program’s first educational conference. Funded in part by the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC) State and Regional Organization Grant, the half-day conference aimed to bring regional cytotechnologists together for networking, educational sessions on cytology “hot topics” and for discussion on the need to revitalize a regional organization for cytotechnologists.  A culmination of collaborative efforts by cytotechnologists and those with interest in cytology, the conference turned out to be a huge success.

The half-day conference offered two educational sessions: “Biomarker Testing on Lung Carcinoma Cytology Specimens” and “Thyroid Cancers and Ancillary Techniques, the Emerging Role of Molecular Diagnostics.” Both sessions focused on molecular diagnostics, an area of pathology where cytotechnologist are playing an increasing role.   Conference attendees received three continuing education credits from the American Society of Cytopathology.

Dr. Valerie Fitzhugh’s talk on biomarker testing in the lung was extremely engaging as well as informative. An Associate Professor at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and an Attending Physician in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Dr. Fitzhugh’s talk featured information on the sample preparation process as well as the current treatment options for patients based on the specific molecular traits of their tumors. She did an excellent job explaining how certain molecular traits lead to more personalized treatment options that can target tumor cells with an astounding degree of accuracy, while limiting or eliminating the awful side effects often associated with chemotherapy.

: Dr. Valerie Fitzhugh presenting at the Rutgers 1t Annual Cytotechnology Education Conference.

Dr. Valerie Fitzhugh presenting at the Rutgers 1st Annual Cytotechnology Education Conference.

Dr. Arbaz Samad’s talk on thyroid carcinomas was equally engaging and informative. Dr. Samad is a Surgical Pathologist and Chief of Cytology with Morristown Pathology Associates, Atlantic Health System. His talk centered on providing an update on the management of patients with atypical, indeterminate, and suspicious thyroid cytology using molecular diagnostics.  These tests can assist in determining the likelihood that a tumor is malignant or benign.  Given this, Dr. Samad stressed that even with the increasing role of molecular diagnostics in thyroid cytology, the level of sophistication for molecular testing is not enough to replace the work of cytotechnologists and pathologists.  Cytomorphology is still paramount in treatment decision making.

The third session of the conference was a panel discussion on the need to revive a regional organization for cytotechnologists. While the New York and New Jersey region has a large number of cytotechnologists, there is no regional organization advocating for the needs of practicing cytotechnologists. The New Jersey Association of Cytology, the last surviving local organization, ceased operation in 2014. For many years, it was the only local organization providing educational seminars and advocacy.

Moderated by Herminia Charris, CT(ASCP), a member of the conference planning committee, the panel format provided interactive discussion between the three panelists and the audience.  Mary Dorsey, past president of the New Jersey Association of Cytology, gave an historical perspective of the organization leading up to its closure in 2014. Lois Rockson, Program Director of the Rutgers Masters in Clinical Laboratory Sciences Cytopathology Program, provided insight on the need for the organization from an educator’s point of view, and Paul Chiou provided perspective from the point of view of a laboratory manager. There was a robust give and take between the audience members and the panelists on topics ranging from the increasing use of Rapid On-Site Evaluation (ROSE) and molecular diagnostics to the potential movement toward a mid-level cytotechnologist practitioner. Discussions on the need for a regional cytology organization included talk on the absence of the voices of cytotechnologists in the room when regulatory issues, licensure, and cytotechnologist scope of practice are being discussed in local and state government houses. The panel also addressed the ongoing trend of the merger and acquisitions of hospitals and laboratories as a major reason for cytotechnologists to organize and the increasing apathy that many cytotechnologists feel toward their chosen profession in the region.

Conclusions from the panel discussion were as follows: There was a consensus about the lack of a voice advocating for the concerns of cytotechnologists in the region. Numerous ideas were shared on how to keep cytotechnologists engaged in discussions about their profession, to include the development of a newsletter and a blog. Many participants felt that the continuation of the educational conferences hosted by the Rutgers Cytotechnology Program was an ideal venue to keep the conversation going, and suggested that the best way to move forward would be to engage the entire region’s cytotechnologists via surveys and focus groups on the topic of reviving a regional organization.

Overall the Rutgers 1st Annual Education Conference was a great success. The half-day session proved to be effective in providing conference participants a well-rounded experience while freeing up their time to enjoy the rest of the gorgeous summer day. There was ample time for networking during the breakfast and intermission sessions. The conference’s two vendors, Hologicâ and VeracyteÔ, provided insight on new trends emerging from their respective corporations.

While the conference organizers hoped for a larger turnout than the twenty-five cytotechnologists in attendance, there was general agreement that those who participated had a rewarding experience and that cytotechnologists in the New Jersey and New York region are passionate about their profession. Different avenues for advertising and spreading the word about any future workshops, conferences and webinars need to be explored to increase conference participation. Regardless of the number of attendees, there was an energized feeling in the air about the future of the cytotechnology profession. Discussion is already underway about steps needed to restart a regional association that will be the voice of cytotechnologists as well as the second Annual Rutgers Education Conference. Stay tuned!

Acknowledgements: The Rutgers Cytotechnology Program would like to acknowledge the American Society of Cytopathology for their generous support in funding this conference as well as all those that helped top make the conference a success. Thank you.

Cytology Society of Indiana (CSI)
Jennifer Kernodle-Zimmer, BS., CT(ASCP), CSI President

 On behalf of the Cytology Society of Indiana (CSI), I extend much gratitude and appreciation for the State and Regional Grant, given by the ASC Foundation. Because of this generous donation and opportunity, our society was able to provide a very successful 2018 spring meeting that encompassed renowned speakers locally and afar. Attendees listened to presentations given on Precision Genomics, the Evolution of Molecular Testing, and partook in a Cell Transfer Technique Workshop.

The ASC Foundation grant assisted the CSI in achieving our program meeting goals by generously awarding $1,000 that helped offset the cost of the venue of the meeting and provide speaker honorarium. Most importantly, CSI Members were able to attend the meeting for free and received 4.5 ASC approved CMLE credits to use for certification maintenance.

North Carolina Society of Cytology
The North Carolina Society of Cytology (NCSC) held its 48th Annual Cytology Conference at the Marriott Greensboro in Greensboro, NC on February 23-24, 2018.

Thanks to past support from the ASC Foundation and Microscope Solutions/Nikon, the NCSC was able to purchase a high definition projector to provide our first interactive microscopy session. In addition, the innovative program included a panel of experts to discuss the future impact of HPV testing in cervical cancer screening on the general population and our profession. This was possible with support from the ASC, national speakers, and vendors. As a state organization, NCSC feels support from our national society continues to be a vital element of success. The ASC Foundation State and Regional Organization Grant is applied to our annual meeting budget and helps cover the cost associated with hosting the leaders of our profession and providing CE credits. Financial assistance and support are important in maintaining a high quality low, cost educational opportunity for our members.

The Saint Louis Society of Cytology

The Saint Louis Society of Cytology has been actively engaged in providing a cytology education platform for cytopathologists and cytotechnologists in the Saint Louis area. This activity began in the late 1980s and has continued to this day.  The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Saint Louis Society of Cytology was at the Greenbriar Golf and Country Club, Kirkwood, Missouri, on Saturday, October 14, 2017.  The education segment of the meeting consisted of five lectures presented by three cytopathologists and one clinician.  The topics covered Pancreatobiliary Cytopathology, Molecular Techniques, Ocular Pathology and Clinical Perspectives in obtaining cytology specimens by EUS procedures.

The Saint Louis Society of Cytology Meeting averages about 65 attendees per meeting.  The evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. Participants commented on the excellent venue and the selection of well-known cytopathologists primarily from the American Society of Cytopathology. There were additional favorable comments on the selection of pertinent lecture topics and for the inclusion of clinicians in the lecture programs. The ability to interact with the pathologists and clinicians was appreciated by the attendees.

ASC Annual Scientific Meeting Travel Scholarships

The ASC Foundation annually presents ASC Annual Scientific Meeting Travel Scholarships to five qualified cytotechnologists who are ASC Members in their first five years of membership or a member who is attending for the first time and to five qualified pathology residents or cytopathology fellows who are ASC members. The $2,000 scholarships defray registration, travel and hotel costs, and will include funding for additional sessions and per diem allowance. Here what they have to say about their experience.

 Cytotechnologists Travel Scholarships

Monica Dorda, CT(ASCP)

Monica Dorda, CT(ASCP) 
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin

I was honored to receive the ASC Foundation Scholarship to attend the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. It would have been impossible for me, a new graduate, to attend this incredible educational and networking event had it not been for the financial help. Every moment of my time in Phoenix was well spent, from listening to lectures from renowned faculty in our field, to dancing with colleagues at the receptions, to seeing the beauty that this new city had to offer. I was pleased to see that the Scientific Sessions included in the basic registration were varied and extremely relevant to my work as a cytotechnologist. I feel that the Annual Scientific Meeting was an incredibly fun way to continue my education, and to get to know fellow cytology fanatics across the U.S and the world. I hope to come back some day! Thanks again for the opportunity!

Kathryn Kiely, CT(ASCP)CM

Kathryn Kiely, CT(ASCP)CM
Strong Memorial Hospital
Rochester, New York

The ASC meeting in Phoenix gave me a very interesting insight into the world of cytology outside of my own department. I had the privilege of presenting my own poster pertaining to rapid on-site evaluations (ROSE), which went on to be awarded the 2017 Cytotechnologist Scientific Presentation Award. The ROSE talk using telecytology was extremely pertinent to my everyday tasks as a cytotechnologist.  The “Evolution of Cytopathology” was an important topic to discuss and hear input from all levels of people in the cytopathology community. As a cytotechnologist in my second year of practice, it is nice to see that I have the opportunity to evolve along with our field. I returned from the Meeting with a greater knowledge of and appreciation for a career that offers fulfillment to all of its professionals.

Maria Ella Lim, CT(ASCP)

Maria Ella Lim, CT(ASCP)
New York Presbyterian Medical Center
New York, New York

I am incredibly grateful for having been awarded the scholarship for the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting.  I had the wonderful opportunity of being a panelist on ROSE live in action, which was exhilarating and gave me a chance to meet cytopathologists and cytotechnologists from other institutions and learn about their on-site adequacy assessment.  While the exhaustive content of the meeting is serious, it was refreshing and entertaining to see the Cytology Shark Tank – a creative and engaging format in presenting research in the field. This was an event that lived up to its hype. Overall, I am magnanimously thankful for having gained more than I ever imagined I would at this scientific meeting – new knowledge, imprints of basic principles, reconnecting with old friends, as well as making new ones. I look forward to attending many more in the future.

Emily McMeekin, CT(ASCP)CM

Emily McMeekin, CT(ASCP)CM
Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Cleveland, Ohio

The ASC Annual Scientific Meeting made me feel part of something bigger than myself and our laboratory. Winning the 2017 Travel Scholarship allowed me to attend the conference in Phoenix, Arizona where I was able to see how this national organization is truly our Society. I networked with professionals from all laboratory backgrounds, which was eye opening as a young cytotechnologist. Presenting a poster at session breaks boosted my speaking confidence and forced me to question aspects of laboratory quality measurements. The scholarship enabled me to attend two lecture sessions, a lunch panel on pancreatic cysts and a small presentation, Challenging Hematopathology Cases in FNA and Small Biopsies: Lesions Other than Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The Meeting was overwhelmingly educational and created an atmosphere of cytologic conversation. The best lecture was actually a short video from a patient thanking all of us for the hard work we do every day. I was not the only member of the audience whose eyes glazed over on the verge of tears while listening to Marnie Kaufman’s 13 year experience with the diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma. Our Society reminded me how each slide has a story and to treat everyone with the utmost importance.

Kelsey Snyder, CT(ASCP)

Kelsey Snyder, CT(ASCP) 
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, New York

Attending the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting was an amazing and unforgettable experience. As a young member of the ASC community, I was enlightened by all the presentations. My favorite part of the conference was the Cytology Shark Tank, which was extremely motivating and encouraging to the entire audience. I also enjoyed the ROSE presentation. Currently, my institution does not allow the cytotechnologists to perform ROSE. Seeing cytotechnologists perform the ROSE was illuminating and I hope that my institution will adjust to let our cytotechnologists perform ROSE in the future.

As a young educator, I found the Friday education meeting to be very informative and useful. I am bringing back several ideas discussed during that meeting to practice at my school and institution. The controversy over making the cytotechnology school in a Master’s only level was very interesting. I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives and debate over the change.

The receptions on Saturday and Sunday evenings were a great way to network and meet other people in the profession. I was able to meet both cytotechnologists and cytopathologists who will be great contacts in the future. Thank you ASC for allowing me to attend this extraordinary meeting and I hope to see you next year in Washington!

Fellows and Residents Travel Scholarships

Deepu Alex, MD, PhD

Deepu Alex, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

I would like to express my thanks and gratitude for the ASC Foundation Annual Scientific Meeting Travel Scholarship, which allowed me to attend and participate at the Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona in November 2017. As a first time attendee, I was extremely impressed by the welcoming nature and collegiality of the cytopathology community. Not only did attending the Meeting provide me with an opportunity to present my research, but it also enabled me to connect with leaders and mentors in diagnostic cytopathology. The didactic and scientific content of the meeting is exemplary. I participated and learned from the various educational sessions and was updated about the latest advances in the field. I especially enjoyed the presentations at Cytology Shark Tank and was encouraged by the Society’s commitment to funding innovators in the field. Last but not least, I was able to meet colleagues with similar clinical and research interests, build new friendships and begin the journey to becoming an active member of the Society. I look forward to attending all future meetings and contributing to the ASC in the years to come.

Emilio Madrigal, DO

Emilio Madrigal, DO
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia

I am grateful to the ASC Foundation for choosing me as one of the fortunate recipients of the Resident and Fellow Travel Scholarship for the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in Phoenix. The scholarship gave me the opportunity to attend the Meeting where I was able to learn from the vibrant scientific program, reconnect with colleagues, and present one of my cytopathology projects to a genuinely receptive audience. This year’s meeting was particularly interesting with the addition the ASC Foundation Young Investigator Grant presented as a Shark Tank contest, which allowed audience members to learn about cutting-edge research projects in an engaging format. Additionally, I made many new connections that have already started to blossom into friendships and research projects. Without a doubt, the Society’s scientific content and Meeting activities continue to be elevated, and I am looking forward to submitting my next abstract and booking my trip to Washington DC. Thank you, ASC!

Alexandra R. Nichols MD
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia

As a recipient of an ASC Foundation Travel Scholarship, it gave me the opportunity to attend the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting and take advantage of numerous additional sessions. The content of the scientific sessions was interesting and relevant to a fellow and someone going into community practice. The Meeting  was perfectly sized to provide a broad scope of content while also being small enough to feel intimate and provide an opportunity to meet many leaders in the field.  I am so grateful to the ASC for awarding me with the travel scholarship and I look forward to attending subsequent meetings for many years to come!

Vanda F. Torous, MD

Vanda F. Torous, MD
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

It was a great honor to receive an ASC travel scholarship; I am truly grateful. Not only was I able to present my current research, but more importantly I was able to meet leaders in our field and learn from their expertise. The lectures and courses offered at the Meeting are not only highly educational, but hit on pertinent and important topics that are pressing in our field today.

This was my first ASC Annual Meeting, and I was able to take away so much from my experience, meeting new people and forming relationships that I’m sure I will have for years to come. I felt part of a wonderful community of people who strive to learn more and do more for the benefit of our specialty and our patients. This was an amazing introduction to the world of cytology.  As I start my career in this wonderful field, I am truly excited to try to do my part to contribute what I can and get involved.

Amy G. Zhou, MD

Amy G. Zhou, MD
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland

I had the great honor of attending the 2017 ASC Annual Scientific Meeting in Phoenix with the help of the ASC Foundation Travel Scholarship.  I am very thankful to the ASC Foundation for selecting me as a scholarship recipient and giving me this opportunity.

I attended many scientific sessions and learned a great deal about the current issues affecting our practice as cytopathologists. The sessions were both informative and insightful. I am definitely feeling more motivated to be involved in ASC committees in the future. The platform presentations were also very interesting because I became aware of the types of cytopathology research that others are involved in. I presented my poster and was able to talk to many other cytopathologists about the experience of using the Paris System for urine cytology at Johns Hopkins. I attended two additional luncheon sessions on pancreatic and head and neck cytopathology, both of which were very up to date and relevant to current practice.

The social events were also great fun. I met many other cytopathologists including former fellows at my institution. ASC definitely knows how to throw a great party!