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Outside the Lab Profession, Technology and innovation, Training and education

Leadership Is an Opportunity and Our Obligation

Pathology has always been at the forefront of medicine. The scientific methods we use to discern the causes of diseases have a history that stretches as far back as the Middle East during the Islam Golden Age and Europe during the Italian Renaissance. From the earliest autopsies to microscopic pathology in the mid-1800s to the first infectious disease investigators in the early 1900s, the men and women who study disease have dictated the direction of medicine.

Although the study of diseases had existed for hundreds of years, until the early 20th century, it was essentially an autopsy-based, theoretical academic subject taught in medical schools. The flu epidemic of 1918, was, in practical terms, the birth of modern pathology in the United States. While the epidemic ravaged the world, pathologists and laboratory professionals worked to find the cause of the disease. It took these medical detectives a few years to settle on a viral cause for the epidemic – but along the way, they discovered a battery of novel diagnostic techniques, such as the creation of chocolate agar to aid the recovery of fastidious bacterial organisms.

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About the Author

E. Blair Holladay

E. Blair Holladay is CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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