Pathology

The Pathology Department is responsible for undergraduate education and postgraduate education in pathology, mentoring of students, research and contributing to the national and international developments in surgical pathology, research and education. The department has close links with the Department of Diagnostic Histopathology in Beaumont Hospital and consultant histopathologists in Beaumont Hospital contribute extensively to the teaching of RCSI students.

Postgraduate training in pathology is provided to trainee pathologists in both RCSI and Beaumont Hospital. This training programme is linked to the north Dublin rotation programme and is accredited by the RCPI. Special tutorials are provided for non-consultant hospital doctors participating in postgraduate professional examinations.

The department has had a significant involvement in the postgraduate training of surgeons in sub-Saharan Africa through its involvement in COSECSA (College of Surgeons of Eastern Central and Southern Africa). Members of the department lecture at national and international meetings in pathology, in particular in relation to soft tissue tumour pathology and renal pathology.

The research activities are centred on molecular and cancer-based translational research. A molecular diagnostic and research laboratory was established in 2008. Recently, this has been transferred to the governance of Beaumont Hospital Pathology Department. RCSI/Beaumont pathologists have played influential roles on national and international pathology societies and committees.

The RCSI Department of Pathology has a rich and interesting heritage. The first curator of the Pathology Department museum was John Shekleton in 1819. He was followed by the surgeon, John Houston in 1824. John Houston was a surgeon in Baggot Street Hospital who first highlighted the value of cytopathology. A remarkable exhibit of his drawings of normal and malignant cells is available in the RCSI archives.

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The Department of Pathology considers undergraduate and postgraduate education to be extremely important. The aim of the department is to provide a relevant, clinically based pathology course that will allow students recognise the value of pathology, (including molecular pathology) to their understanding of medicine. We hope from their pathology course that they will be competent to apply their pathology knowledge to the clinical presentation of disease, its progression and complications, prognosis and predicted response to therapy. RCSI pathology students are also taught to understand how to use appropriate laboratory tests and to interpret their results.

A hybrid approach to education is followed. The pathology programme includes lectures, small group teaching sessions in the format of clinicopathological conference teaching, tutorial and clinical laboratory sessions. Additionally, an online learning module is available to all students. This includes tutorials, images and self-assessment.

Students are encouraged to ask questions and to participate in interactive teaching sessions in a supportive environment. A basic science pathology module is regarded as a key module to provide an understanding of the basic mechanisms of disease that underlie medicine and surgery. All teaching is provided by medically qualified staff, many of whom have postgraduate memberships in medicine and surgery and other disciplines.

Teaching is provided to physiotherapists, trainee doctors in pathology and in other disciplines. Some members of the department provide extensive postgraduate teaching in pathology at seminars worldwide, including Europe, Africa and other fora.

Assessment of students is considered crucial. Student evaluation includes MCQs, short note and CPC questions. The latter assesses the students’ understanding of disease presentation, appropriate formulation of differential diagnoses and appropriate investigations. They also encourage logical thinking and deduction and the ability to formulate ones answers in a lucid and well-written manner.

The objective of this service is to drive and support translational research in the RCSI Hospital Group and nationally by providing technical expertise, specialised histopathological knowledge and clinical interpretation. The Pathology Laboratory at RCSI, Beaumont Hospital offers tissue-based research and clinical diagnostic services under the direction of pathologists and medical scientists with a strong background in molecular biology and histopathology. In the past year, the facility performed molecular analysis on more than 3,000 tumour samples from 20 hospitals using immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridisation, PCR and next generation sequencing technologies and, in conjunction with St James’s Hospital, the laboratory provides a national service for solid tumour predictive molecular testing in melanoma, colorectal and lung cancer.

In the past year, the chief and senior medical scientists have acted as assessors for the UK National External Quality Assessment Schemes (NEQAS) in molecular pathology and immunohistochemistry. In addition, the laboratory supplies all material for the UK NEQAS Breast HER2 in situ hybridisation module. This is the only laboratory in Ireland providing such a service.

Members of the Pathology Department provide consultation and technical support to many research groups throughout the College, including researchers in the Departments of Surgery, Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics and Molecular Medicine.

In the past year, support has also been provided to collaborative researchers in Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, as well as industry partners including OncoMark and Nuritas.

Professor/Hospital Consultant and Chair of Department

  •  Mary Leader

Professors/Hospital Consultants

  • Tony Dorman

Academic Senior Lecturer/Hospital Consultant

  • Maeve Redmond

Honorary Senior Lecturers/Hospital Consultants

  • Katherine Sheehan
  • Helen Barrett
  • Mary Keogan
  • Philip Murphy

Honorary Lecturers/ Hospital Consultants

  • Alan Beausang
  • Francesca Brett
  • Jane Cryan
  • Brendan Doyle
  • Michael Farrell
  • Anne-Marie O’Shea
  • Marie Staunton