Daniel F.I. Kurtycz, M.D.
Greetings to All,
I am delighted to make my first written address to our cytology community as the new President of the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC). I am excited by the prospect of a new year and trying to further the Society’s missions of patient advocacy, education and research; but I especially want to turn the spotlight on our members. I would like to focus on how we can bring our people closer together and tell them how much they are appreciated for what they do.
This ASC is unique, unlike any professional society I have ever encountered. I contend that we are already more engaged with one another than many people who are genetically linked. Because of that perception, I have chosen my theme for this year to be families.
The ASC has been my professional family for nearly 40 years. It has been central to my career and identity. It has been a source of close friends and a focus for my professional development. I have been exposed to brilliant minds, incredible ideas and a phenomenal number of people that I care deeply about. The ASC has sent me across the world and helped create indelible memories. The benefits that I have experienced from my ASC family should be available to every family member that decides to partake. If one chooses to engage, the rewards are enormous.
The family has been amazingly successful. Our members have risen to the highest posts in diagnostic laboratory medicine. Examples include Drs. Diane Davey and Ritu Nayar on the American Board of Pathology, Dr. Celeste Powers as Past President of USCAP and Dr. David Kaminsky as the Executive Director. Many of our members have significant responsibility in the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and participate with regional and federal government. Listing our accomplished relatives in Cytology would fill pages. We welcome our family members from across the world and participate in international cytology, from Europe, Asia and everywhere in between. It is difficult to find the like.
Aided by the other officers and ASC staff, my presidency will continue the work of my predecessors and embrace the future. There are so many amazing things to know and to do. We have to continue and extend the cytologic method for diagnosis and monitoring. Our domain is the study of disease at the cellular level and we must train our physicians and laboratorians to understand the genetic and biochemical basis of cellular function as well as cellular morphology. There should be no limits to our scope of interest or curiosity.
Because of the stewardship of past and current officers, the ASC is financially stable. Our Foundation is working hard to generate funds to support the Society and its aims. The Foundation provides a buffer in the case of economic variability while fostering efforts at advocacy and education with an eye on the budget. We have a strong central office under the able leadership of a dedicated executive. We have over 3,000 members and are on the upswing thanks to committee efforts.
Goals and Initiatives
- Small Biopsy Task Force: This initiative was started by Dr. Syed Ali to address the overlap between Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) samples, cell block materials that are subject to histologic type preparation and small biopsies that fall into our realm. Diagnostic technology progressively allows us to do more with less and we need to be at the forefront, driving the wave for the sake of our patients and art.
- Dr. Liron Pantanowicz is evaluating the literature and writing a review paper for our journal, JASC. An associated white paper on Small Biopsies is in the planning stages.
- Dr. Michael Thrall has accepted the challenge of leading the Small Biopsy Task Force and will shortly be issuing a survey to assess the state of our practice. The intent is to collect information and participants leading to a monograph similar to our diagnostic cytology systems.
- Ambassador Committee, International Liaison Committee and Membership Committee: A Focus will be on these three groups that are charged with offering the ASC’s hand and bringing more people into the fold. The Ambassador Committee is directed at students, trainees and new members. The International Liaison Committee is focused on reaching colleagues beyond the borders of the US and Canada. The Membership Committee will interact with the other two to help their initiatives, determining eligibility and foster strategies for recruitment.
- The Social Media Committee: Under the guidance of Dr. Amy Clayton, this committee is tasked with the use of modern communications to help foster the aims of our other committees. For us, the social media environment is an ongoing experiment in trying to reach our constituents amid the barrage of daily messages. We are fortunate to be associated with a number of gifted people.
- Support our Cytotechnologists and Cytotechnology Schools:
- The Society will be engaging with many of our senior cytotechnologists in the coming year, to talk about their aspirations and roles in our organization.
- We will seek to encourage conclusions regarding future roles of graduates from our schools of cytotechnology and find meaningful content support as the new curricula evolves.
- New Product Committee: The ASC needs new useful products to educate our members and provide some measure of revenue. I am exceedingly grateful that Dr. Ritu Nayar has agreed to chair the committee. This Society has always been at the forefront of such development, most notably with Dr. David Kaminsky’s creation of teleconferences. There will be a great deal of brainstorming to see what will be attractive and useful for our membership and trainees.
- 2020 Annual Meeting in Orlando: This will be superb, with internationally renowned speakers and a strong scientific basis. I want to formally invite the family. Details will be forthcoming.
- The 2022 ASC/IAC Sponsored World Symposium of Cytology in Baltimore: Through the good offices of the International Academy of Cytology and the American Society of Cytopathology, we will bring the world to the US. This is an IAC/ASC combined effort. European and South American Societies have also elected to defer their own meetings and join the celebration. We have to provide excellence to the international family and make sure that the experience is worthy of our relatives in Cytology.
We ask a lot from the members who volunteer countless hours to advance the cause of cytopathology in science and our organization, but we also have to remember why the Society endures. The ASC exists to serve the membership. As they carry out their charges, our committees have been asked to consider what our members, our family, needs or wants.
- Do they need education to make the appropriate diagnosis?
- Do they want education for the sake of knowledge itself?
- Do they need education for credentialing?
- Do they need colleagues to help serve the patients?
- Do they need collaboration for publication?
- Do they need friends with shared experience?
In the same spirit, I would like to see appropriate committees provide mentoring and advice on how a person can progress. I think that occasionally “what’s in it for me?” is a reasonable question to balance all the demands that the world and our careers place on us. The ASC can’t do everything at once, and certainly has a limitation on resources, but we can tackle topics like “What does it take for a cytotechnologist to get ahead?”, “What does it take for a practicing private cytopathologist to get ahead?” and “What does it take for an academic cytopathologist to get ahead?”. People are in some families by accident. We are in a family by choice and take care of one another.
I inherit the leadership of a strong family, which is financially stable, with a loyal staff and wonderful membership. I, with the help of the leadership, will try to do it justice.
All my Best,
Daniel F.I. Kurtycz, M.D.
Professor (CHS), Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine