Medics help explain the role of pathology

Published: 29 October 2008

Medical staff from the University of Glasgow are to spend this week bringing pathology to the public.

Medical staff from the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are to spend this week bringing pathology to the public.

Through a series of public lectures and exhibitions, they plan to reshape the understanding of what pathology is and the role it in plays in healthcare.

Barry Gusterson, professor of pathology at the University of Glasgow said: “Pathology is about understanding disease. It is not all about dealing with the dead.

“We are putting together a three day exhibition which will explain to the public what pathology actually is and the role it plays in modern medicine.

“Most pathologists investigate and treat living patients. The discipline accounts for 4 per cent of the total money spent on health each year in the UK. 

“Hospital laboratories are handling more and more specimens and carrying out a wider range of tests than ever before. It is essential that such tests are done quickly and efficiently. It is also important that pathologists advise other healthcare staff on which are the most appropriate tests for a given patient, Pathologists make the diagnosis from these tests, help to recommend treatment and predict likely outcome’’.

“Some, do examine and carry out tests on the dead, but this is mostly to learn more about why and how they died, rather than to help identify crime. Information gained from these examinations can be used for the benefit of other patients.

“Although much of the work is laboratory based, many pathologists undertake direct care of patients as a major part of their job. Pathology has gradually grown and evolved into into a huge variety of disciplines.”

Pathologists in academic centres, such as Glasgow, are also involved in research into the causes of disease and the development of new diagnostic tests and tests to predict which is the best drug for the treatment of cancer, such as Herceptin for breast cancer.

The Medical Faculty has organised two public lectures designed to show the practical applications of pathology.

On Monday, November 3, Professor Jim Cassidy, head of the Division of Cancer Sciences will talk about developing new drugs for cancer. 

And Tuesday, November 4, Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine from the Division of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, will deliver a lecture on diabetes and obesity.

Both lectures take place at 6pm in the Yudowitz Lecture Room, in the Wolfson Medical School.

The atrium of the medical school will be used for the exhibition which will look at topics including lung disease and smoking, what is pathology, breast pathology and breast staging, forensic pathology, Alzheimer's disease and modern techniques used in pathology.

There will also be coronary artery disease and major cancers specimens on show.

Professor Gusterson said: “We hope that the public will come along to see for themselves what pathology is all about and gain a new understanding of what is an incredibly important part of medical science.”

The Glasgow events are part of the UK’s first National Pathology Week, which is designed to highlight pathology’s impact on the health of the population.

First published: 29 October 2008