The Neuropathology Division at Washington University has a longstanding program dedicated to providing excellence in clinical service, research, and teaching. The fellowship position is one of the few in the country to consistently fill and it has been accredited for over 40 years.
Our faculty includes nationally and internationally recognized experts with a wide range of both clinical and basic research interests, particularly neoplastic, neurodegenerative, peripheral nerve, and muscle neuropathology.
The goal of the neuropathology training program is to prepare our fellows for all aspects of a highly successful career in academic neuropathology. One new fellow is accepted into the program each year. At least two years of prior postgraduate training are required. Preference is given to individuals with two years of anatomic pathology training; however, those with one year of anatomic pathology and one year of clinical neurology/neurosurgery also are considered.
The Neuropathology fellowship was first accredited in the mid-1970s and has operated with continuous accreditation since that time. The value of any training program is a function of its personnel, including both the knowledge and commitment of the teaching staff and the trainees. Our program has focused on a broad spectrum ranging from the training of academic neuropathologists to clinicians practicing a combination of general surgical pathology and neuropathology in large community hospitals. As the result of a national reputation for excellence, we have filled our trainee slots for all but 6 months of the last 40 years.
The program began with Dr. James S. Nelson and included a Division consisting of Drs. William Schlaepfer, William Blank and Richard Torack. Trainees of this program include three present Department Chairmen (Drs. John Schweitzer, Kevin Roth and Steve Carroll), heads of Neuropathology Divisions (Drs. Steven Carroll, Robert E. Schmidt, H. Brent Clark, Christine Fuller, Murat Gokden), neuropathologists with primary academic appointments (Drs. Leslie Bruch, Warren Tourtellotte, Murat Gokden, Nicolaos Flaris, Deborah Commins, Necat Havlioglu, Lauren Langford, Xiaodan Cai, Cungfeng Pu, Christine Fuller, Veena Rajaram, Steven Carroll, Ben Tu, Ryan Miller, Rick Perrin, Stephanie Brown (now Burton), Ashima Agarwal, Sonika Dahiya, Chunyu Cai, Patrick Cimino and Katherine Schwetye), one in industry (Rick Roberts) and several in private practice (Drs. Keith Fulling (now retired), Jamie Jacobson, Beth Levy).
A number of trainees of the fellowship program subsequently joined the WUMS Neuropathology Division staff (Drs. Fulling, Schmidt, Clark, Roth, Carroll, Perrin, Dahiya). Many of our past trainees have contributed extensively to the advancement of diagnostic neuropathology and translational or basic neurobiologic research. A number have received awards for meritorious research at national meetings.
Neuropathology requires a two-year commitment. During the first year, concentration is directed to the diagnostic aspects of neuropathology. In this period, the fellow gains familiarity with both common and rare neuropathological diseases, morphologic diagnosis, and ancillary techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and molecular diagnostics. Approximately 1700 specimens come through the clinical service each year, including autopsy, surgical, and consultation material.
The second year is primarily for research. A wide spectrum of both clinical and neuroscience research opportunities exist within the division and the medical school environment. The second year offers the individual a chance to begin or expand upon a specific area of investigation with the aim of developing a viable, ongoing research program. Some fellows have extended their time in the lab and the program can be tailored to individual needs depending on the candidate’s long-term career goals, availability of an appropriate mentor, and funding. During the second year of fellowship, fellows also cover the first year during three weeks of that fellow’s vacation time. We also ask the second year fellows to pick up one autopsy each week for the first 6 months to maintain skills and to relieve some of the clinical burdens for the first year fellows. Prior fellows from Washington University have uniformly passed their Neuropathology Boards, secured desirable faculty positions, and pursued successful careers.
Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are currently being accepted, apply here.
Robert E. Schmidt, MD, PhD
Program Director, Division of Neuropathology
Department of Pathology and Immunology
Washington University School of Medicine
660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8118
St. Louis, MO 63110
To view a list of past fellows click here.