Integrating molecular diagnostics into histopathology training: the Belfast model

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Abstract

Molecular medicine is transforming modern clinical practice, from diagnostics to therapeutics. Discoveries in research are being incorporated into the clinical setting with increasing rapidity. This transformation is also deeply changing the way we practise pathology. The great advances in cell and molecular biology which have accelerated our understanding of the pathogenesis of solid tumours have been embraced with variable degrees of enthusiasm by diverse medical professional specialties. While histopathologists have not been prompt to adopt molecular diagnostics to date, the need to incorporate molecular pathology into the training of future histopathologists is imperative. Our goal is to create, within an existing 5-year histopathology training curriculum, the structure for formal substantial teaching of molecular diagnostics. This specialist training has two main goals: (1) to equip future practising histopathologists with basic knowledge of molecular diagnostics and (2) to create the option for those interested in a subspecialty experience in tissue molecular diagnostics to pursue this training. It is our belief that this training will help to maintain in future the role of the pathologist at the centre of patient care as the integrator of clinical, morphological and molecular information.

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