by Richard Haspel, MD, PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
A group of experts in molecular pathology, medical education and genetic counseling have created four genomic medicine lectures available at no charge on the Intersociety Council for Pathology Information (ICPI) website. The lectures are in PowerPoint format and include notes to facilitate adaptation and incorporation into genomic medicine curricula.
Pathologists direct molecular diagnostic laboratories and provide expertise in test development, validation and interpretation to ensure accurate results and appropriate patient care. Consistent with this role, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires that all pathology residents receive training in molecular diagnostics. While almost all residents are instructed in “classic” single gene testing, only approximately 30% receive any training in genomic medicine, based on a national survey conducted through the Pathology Residency Directors Section (PRODS) of the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC). As next-generation sequencing methods have already led to personalized chemotherapy regimens and the discovery of the genetic basis of rare diseases, pathologists must receive training in genomic medicine to continue in their critical role of providing accurate laboratory test results and assisting other health care professionals in interpretation.
Recognizing this need, the Training Residents in Genomics (TRIG) Working Group was formed through PRODS and APC in 2010. Membership includes three past presidents of the Association for Molecular Pathology, a past editor-in-chief of the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, the former chief of the molecular pathology section of the National Cancer Institute, a representative from the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and the executive director of NCHPEG. With administrative support from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the TRIG Working Group has taken a multi-pronged approach to pathology genomics education, which can be applied to other specialties and healthcare innovations (reviewed in Personalized Medicine (2012); 9: 287-293).
Using a curriculum developed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a starting point, the TRIG Working Group created the four genomic medicine PowerPoint lectures covering:
- test methodology,
- application of testing to patient care, and
- communication of results to physicians and patients.
While developed for pathologists-in-training, the lectures can be also be utilized by other health professional as an introduction to genomic medicine and in developing curricula. In addition, the TRIG Working Group has raised awareness of the importance of genomics education through presentations at meetings of major pathology organizations, NSGC, and NCHPEG. With the assistance of the TRIG Working Group, genomics questions have also appeared for the first time on the pathology resident in-service exam. The exam, administered by ASCP, is given to all pathology residents in the United States and will provide valuable information on the state of genomic pathology education and help target areas for improvement.
The TRIG Working Group plans to continue to promote and create tools for genomics education. The group invites NCHPEG members to access the lectures and provide feedback. The group also welcomes members interested in collaborating to further develop and disseminate learning tools. To contact the TRIG Working Group, email Richard Haspel.