Watching the medical detectives

Doctors and scientists at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will this week be revealing to the public the backroom laboratory work they do to diagnose diseases.

This week is the first-ever National Pathology Week, running from 3–9 November 2008. National Pathology Week aims to highlight pathology’s impact on the health of the population.

The pathology laboratories run by the trust cover specialisms like chemical pathology (urine and blood tests), histopathology (cellular tests/biopsies) and microbiology (bacterial tests) and virology (viral tests).

If you live in central Norfolk and have ever given a blood sample or urine sample to your family doctor or to a hospital doctor, an army of scientists and pathologists will have worked behind the scenes to help diagnose your problem. In fact, up to 70 per cent of all diagnoses made in the NHS depend on the backroom detective work of pathologists and scientists.

The chemical laboratory at NNUH, for example, is the busiest in the region and one of the busiest in the country, handling up to 12,000 specimens every day.

Scientists and consultants will be giving free public lectures at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the Benjamin Gooch Lecture Theatre, East Atrium, Level 1, on Friday 7 November and Saturday 8 November on topics ranging from breast cancer to immunology and microbiology.

Friday, 7 November

2.50 Opening ceremony David Prior
3.00 Breast histopathology Anne Girling
3.30 What is pathology? Mark Wilkinson
4.00 The Pathology of Art – the re-presentation of diagnostic images* Elaine Rushin and Joe King
4.30 Blood transfusion Alex Boyle
5.00 Immunology in a nutshell Ian Thirkettle
5.30 Mission impossible: can we predict cellular behaviour on microscopy Laszlo Igali
6.00 Toxicology Liz Groves
6.30 Quality issues in pathology Alan Dean
7.00 Forensic pathology Ben Swift

*This short presentation will showcase some recent collaborative work from Joe King, animator from the Royal College of Art, and Elaine Rushin, lecturer in Critical Studies, Norwich University College of the Arts. This will be an opportunity to see some animated clips produced in response to medical diagnostic images sourced from the NNUH.

Saturday, 8 November

2.00 10 things everyone should know about their blood Martin Auger
2.30 Bowel cancer screening Virginia Sams
3.00 Clinical chemistry Garry John
3.30 The value of clinical post mortem examination Richard Ball
4.00 Teaching pathology to our medical students Mark Wilkinson
4.30 Medical microbiology
5.00 Immunohistochemistry in diagnosis Richard Ball
5.30 Molecular profiling in cancer diagnostics – is this the future? Dylan Edwards

Pathology is about understanding disease. 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 and offers a varied and interesting career path.

Chemical pathology: the study of changes in chemical composition of body fluids in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease processes, e.g. blood sugar in diabetes.

Cytopathology: the study of abnormal cells in body fluids, smears and tissue samples, e.g. cervical smears for the detection of changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer.

Forensic pathology: the determination of causes of death for medico-legal purposes, e.g. to distinguish between accidental death, suicide and murder.

Genetics: the study of the changes underlying genetic diseases, e.g. cystic fibrosis.

Haematology and transfusion medicine: the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the blood, e.g. anaemia, leukaemia and the organisation of blood transfusion.

Histopathology: the study of diseased tissue, e.g. breast lumps or specimens of bowel removed because of suspected cancer, including examination under the microscope.

Immunology, histocompatibility and immunogenetics: the study of the body's immune system and its disorders, e.g. allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and tissue matching for organ transplants.

Microbiology: the diagnosis of infection caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses and identification of the best treatment options for infection and the monitoring of antibiotic resistance. Also includes testing for how well a patient is responding to treatment of infection.

Tuesday 4th of November 2008 11:00:32 AM