Anatomic and Experimental Pathology

Interim division chief:  Joseph Gaut, MD, PhD

View Conferences & LecturesView faculty


Surgical pathology at Washington University has a rich history of research excellence demonstrated by numerous seminal contributions to the field. The origins of the Department of Pathology at Washington University began as a department focused on anatomic (autopsy) and experimental pathology. Surgical Pathology was integrated into the Department of Pathology from surgery during Paul Lacy’s tenure as chair. Dr. Lacy envisioned a group of pathologists who not only provided world-class clinical care, but who also dedicated significant time to scholarly pursuits. Lauren V. Ackerman, Chief of Surgical Pathology at the time, championed this vision of clinician-scholars and developed one of the most successful Surgical Pathology Departments in the United States.

The Division of Anatomic and Experimental Pathology carries the spirit of Ackerman’s legacy by promoting the significant scholarly work that has been a hallmark of surgical pathologists within Washington University’s Department of Pathology and Immunology. The mission of AEP is to advance the field of human pathology through tissue-based investigation while providing the highest level of pathology subspecialty clinical service. It is the goal of the Division of Anatomic and Experimental Pathology to cultivate scholarly pursuit amongst surgical pathologists, providing the time and resources necessary to build academic surgical pathologist careers.

Washington University Experimental Pathology History

Lauren V. Ackerman published the first report of verrucous carcinoma of the oral cavity also known as Ackerman’s tumor. He is regarded as one of the founders of the field of surgical pathology as a distinct specialty within Anatomic Pathology. He authored of the widely used seminal text “Surgical Pathology,” first published in 1953.

Paul Lacy made seminal contributions to our understanding of the many cell types within islets of Langerhans. He was the first to localize insulin in tissue using immunohistochemistry. He developed methods to culture pancreatic islet cells and, in collaboration with Dr. Walter Ballinger, also of Washington University, developed islet cell transplantation to treat type I diabetes. He performed the first islet cell transplantation in humans in 1989.

Juan Rosai made seminal contributions to our understanding of many surgical pathology entities including sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy which bears the eponym Rosai-Dorfman disease. He has authored over 400 manuscripts including the widely utilized “Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology” text.

Louis P. “Pepper” Dehner, a world renowned pediatric pathologist, was the first to describe pleuropulmonary blastoma. He has made major contributions to our understanding of small round-cell malignancies and other pediatric conditions. Dr Dehner has published over 350 publications, including the most successful text in pediatric pathology, “Pediatric Surgical Pathology.”

Peter Humphrey has published over 330 papers, reviews, and book chapters with an emphasis in genitourinary pathology. He authored the “Prostate Pathology” text and is the co-author of the 2011 AFIP Fascicle on Tumors of the Prostate and of  the 2016 WHO Classification of Tumors of the Urinary System and Male Genital Organs.

Ronald Dorfman developed hematopathology as a pathology subspecialty and founded the Society of Hematopathology. He has done extensive work on non-Hodgkin lymphoma classification. Dr. Dorfman made seminal contributions to our understanding of many surgical pathology entities including sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy which bears the eponym Rosai-Dorfman disease.

Richard Kempson has made significant contributions to soft tissue pathology including defining diagnostic criteria for fatty tumors he published first studies to use mitotic index to stratify uterine sarcomas and authored AFIP/ARP fascicle on Soft Tissue Tumors.