Learn more about our Member Spotlight of the month, Dr. Sue Ellen Martin from her conversation with Membership Committee Member Dr. Po Chu Fung
Member Spotlight Interview
Dr. Sue Ellen Martin obtained her PhD in cellular pathology from the University College London in 1975 and her medical degree in 1979 from Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Although she was initially interested in pursuing a career in Internal Medicine, her research on single cell suspensions prepared from tissue biopsy of tumors and her fascination with cellular morphology led her to pursue a career in Anatomic Pathology. In 1982, Dr. Martin completed her residency training in Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology in the Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, Bethesda, MD. She was recruited as a Senior Investigator at the NCI where she focused her translational research efforts on the application of immunocytochemistry to cytologic diagnosis, and in 1984 she was appointed as Chief of the Cytopathology Division of the Laboratory of Pathology, NCI, NIH. In 1985, she was recruited to the University of Southern California (USC) as an Associate Professor of Pathology. At USC, she established the Fine Needle Aspiration service at LAC+USC Medical Center and at the Keck Medical Center of USC. She also developed the Fellowship program in Cytopathology at USC. Under her leadership, the Cytopathology Fellowship program grew to become ACGME accredited with four Cytopathology fellows. Today, Dr. Martin serves as the Associate Medical Director for Anatomic Pathology (AP) at LAC+USC Medical Center and Associate Chief of Anatomic Pathology at Keck Medical Center of USC.
1. What drew you to this profession?
During my training I thought that Cytopathology was an exciting field with unparalleled opportunities for the application of adjunct diagnostic modalities, and I still think that is the case today. It also provides, through FNA, a unique opportunity for the pathologist to interact directly with patients as well as with a wide variety of medical specialists and to collaborate with them in the management of patient care.
2. Tell us about an interesting case or situation that you’ve encountered in your practice.
One experience that impressed upon me the power and importance of FNA in patient management occurred with an FNA of a patient at LAC+USC who was scheduled for same day surgery to resect what clinically appeared to be a primary lung carcinoma. Immediately, preoperatively a neck mass was noted, and they called the FNA service to do an FNA to rule out metastatic disease. The FNA did not show cancer, but Coccidiodes immitis, a soil fungus native to the San Joaquin Valley of California! His surgery was cancelled and subsequent biopsy of his lung mass proved to be coccidioidomycosis.
3. What do you like best about being a cytopathologist?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career in Cytopathology has been training bright, young pathologists. Initially as the Cytopathology Fellowship Director and more recently as the Associate Medical Director for AP, I have had the opportunity to teach and mentor individuals who possess unique talents and are truly dedicated to the pathology profession. It has been wonderful to see them grow and become successful in their medical careers and to assume a variety of leadership roles in the field of Pathology.
4. What do you value most about your membership in the ASC?
The ASC provides a wonderful opportunity to connect and network with friends and colleagues at the Annual Scientific Meetings. I also appreciate the monthly cyto-econferences and other continuing educational materials provided by the Society.
5. Do you have a memory from the ASC that you would like to share?
I was absolutely terrified when asked to be one of the panelists for the Diagnostic Cytology Seminar Cases. I was invited by Dr. Cibas and the cases he chose were very unusual and difficult. It was a very interesting and challenging experience that I will never forget.
6. What advice would you give to students coming into the profession?
Pathologists continue to play a crucial role in providing accurate and timely diagnoses to their clinical colleagues, enabling them to effectively treat and manage their patients. More than ever, Cytopathology requires highly talented, disciplined, dedicated and intelligent individuals who can work together with their colleagues in Pathology and in other specialties to provide the best possible patient care.