Learn more about our Member Spotlight of the month, Dr. Liron Pantanowitz from his conversation with Membership Committee Member Dr. Ranjana Nawgiri.
Member Spotlight Interview
1. How did you first find out about cytology?
I found out about cytology when I was a medical student. The ability to make diagnoses from single cells intrigued me. Before I was even a pathology resident, I made an appointment with the head of cytology, Dr. Gladwyn Leiman, who gave me a challenging assignment. She asked me to write up 10 cases discussing the cytopathology of head and neck tumors that she was presenting at the International Association of Oral Pathologists. These were published in the proceedings of the 9th International Congress on Oral Pathology. I was instantly hooked on cytology and have never looked back. Dr. Leiman has also remained a mentor for me for all these years.
2. What drew you to this profession?
Three things drew me to this profession, and still do today. They are: (1) the challenge of making diagnoses from cytology material, (2) the people involved in the field including cytotechnologists and cytopathologists, and (3) the beauty of cytological material when looking through a microscope (or in a digital image on a computer monitor!).
3. Tell us about an interesting case or situation that you’ve encountered in your practice.
To be honest, I have had so many interesting cases in cytology that I could never choose one.
4. What do you like best about being a cytopathologist?
I like the fact that I enjoy practicing cytopathology. I enjoy being on service irrespective of whether it’s performing FNA, being on-site to evaluate material, or sitting at a microscope to sign out cases. Being an academic cytopathologist, I also get the opportunity to teach others about the field I enjoy and get involved in research projects to find a solution to unanswered questions or improve the way we currently do things. I also take pride in the fact that not everyone can do what we do; there are many pathologists who just can’t or won’t make diagnoses from cytological material. It’s satisfying to see how others are always amazed that during an intraoperative evaluation it takes me a fraction of the time to make a diagnosis from a touch prep or smear than from a frozen section.
5. What is the most rewarding thing that has happened to you in cytology?
Through the practice of cytology I have been able to accomplish many of the things I set out to do in medicine. Some examples are:
– I get to have face-to-face interaction with patients, which many pathologists do not. I am able to directly participate in patient care when performing an FNA. I also get to work closely with clinical teams when on-site in the hospital.
– I have been able to excel at academics. The field of cytology has provided me with a never-ending source of material and questions to write about and perform research.
– I have been able to grow administratively as a director of a cytology lab, as well as nationally on committees for the ASC.
6. What do you value most about your membership in the ASC?
I really value being able to spend time with and/or work together with like-minded people who are also passionate about cytology. It doesn’t matter if I’m attending a course with others at an ASC meeting or serving on a committee for the ASC.
7. Do you have a memory from the ASC that you would like to share?
Yes. I remember the first time, in 2011, when I was on the ASC Scientific Program Committee. We worked hard all year planning novel sessions, inviting speakers that we hoped members would enjoy, and grading abstracts. It was great to see how much ASC members enjoyed that meeting and it was rewarding to see how much our hard work was appreciated. That positive feedback has kept me working hard on the ASC Scientific Program Committee until now.