Department of Pathology News

Congratulations to Dr. Seena Tabibi!

Seena Tabibi

First-year resident Dr. Seena Tabibi was honored with a Johns Hopkins Safety Star for an action he took in February while on rotation in Transfusion Medicine. Seena went above and beyond to thoroughly investigate a situation that would have caused harm to a patient. The award recognizes individuals whose extraordinary actions have identified hazards and prevents harm to patients. Way to go, Seena!

~May 2020

Royal Decoration for Johan Offerhaus

Johan Offerhaus

Congratulations to Johan Offerhaus! Johan will receive a Royal Decoration as 'Knight in the Order of The Netherlands Lion'.

A long-time friend and collaborator to many in our department, Johan was one of the first graduates of our GI/Liver Pathology fellowship training program.

Johan recently retired as a professor at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Prior to his retirement, Johan held an adjunct appointment in the Department of Pathology here at Hopkins.

A wonderfully well-deserved honor!

~May 2020

Tribute to Mr. Rusty Ghee

Rusty Ghee

We are saddened by the passing of long-time Pathology employee and laboratory computer programmer Clarence "Rusty" Ghee, who died recently after a many-month struggle with cancer. Rusty was known for his technical skills, and also for his wonderful singing voice and his perennially cheerful personality. He was clearly a favorite of all who knew him.

Rusty began working at The Johns Hopkins Hospital as a computer operator almost 50 years ago, when punched cards were used with the laboratories' IBM computer, which was housed on the fifth floor of the Carnegie building adjacent to the old Chemistry Laboratory.

Rusty quickly became interested in computer programming and studied to become a programmer for the laboratories, where he contributed skillfully and tirelessly over the decades to the growth and evolution of the Johns Hopkins Laboratory Information System (LIS).

In addition to his important contributions to the technical development of the Hopkins LIS, Rusty's many skills included an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every detail of the computer system. Rusty was the expert on subtle or difficult problems with the laboratory system, and was always the "go-to" person for computer problems -- even during his final illness.

Rusty's accomplishments as a programmer were also highlighted in The Johns Hopkins Hospital's 1980 Annual Report.

Among Rusty's other consuming passions were his music and his singing. In recent years, with his wife Felecia accompanying him on the piano, they performed at multiple religious services virtually every weekend in their community and across the Baltimore region.

In addition to his wife Felecia, Rusty is survived by his children Clarence "Little Rusty", Jason and Kayla, seven grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, and a large extended family. He was preceded in death in 2009 by his wife Julietta, who also was a longtime Pathology employee.

Rusty and his many contributions will long be remembered by all who knew him and worked with him.

Download - In Loving Memory, Clarence William Ghee, Jr.

~May 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Janielle Maynard!

Dr. Janielle Maynard

Dr. Maynard, a postdoctoral fellow working in the laboratory of Karen Sfanos, Ph.D., has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the 2020 Postdoctoral Excellence in Mentoring Award. The selection committee noted the "depth and breadth" of her mentoring activities, her efforts in promoting an inclusive and diverse mentoring environment, and her leadership in the School of Medicine. The award ceremony is delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but please congratulate Janielle virtually!

~April 2020

National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 19-25

Lab Week 2020

The Department of Pathology celebrates National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 19-25, 2020. The Department thanks all of its employees for their dedicated service and commitment to patient care.

Looking forward, April 19-25 is Lab Week! We won't be able to hold our usual in-person celebrations, but we will be creative and, most importantly in these challenging times, we will express our profound and deep appreciation to everyone working in the labs!"Ralph Hruban, M.D.
Director of the Department of Pathology

~April 2020

Blood Drives at JHM Campuses Added to Schedule

The COVID-19 pandemic has diminished the blood supply, due social distancing procedures leading to the cancellation of blood drives. Donor who feel well and are eligible to donate are encouraged to sign up to donate at to help assure a steady supply of blood to the hospital. Below is a list of upcoming blood drives.

Location Address Date
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions 615 North Wolfe Street
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD - 21205
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions 615 North Wolfe Street
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD - 21205
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center 4940 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD - 21224
Sibley Memorial Hospital 5255 Loughboro Road, NW
Washington, DC - 20016
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions 615 North Wolfe Street
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD - 21205
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions 615 North Wolfe Street
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD - 21205

Based on previous experience with SARS, MERS and influenza, as well as emerging understanding of SARS-CoV-2, the blood banking community does not believe that the COVID-19 pandemic poses an infectious risk to the blood supply. Consistent with this sentiment, none of the groups that oversee blood bank activities (AABB, FDA, and CDC) have required any additional donor testing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that members of our Johns Hopkins Community will likely read scientific studies indicating that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in the blood of some patients that are suffering from COVID-19. This is true of other respiratory viral infections as well. The blood bank community is aware of these reports, but based on what is known about the natural history of SARS-CoV-2 infection, it is the overwhelming opinion of experts that the general donor requirement to have a normal body temperature and "feel well" on the day of donation is adequate protection against transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via blood. Out of an abundance of caution, the American Red Cross and other blood suppliers are also voluntarily deferring prospective donors who are identified as having a risk factor for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 during the general donor screening process.

Overall, prospective blood donors who feel well, are without fever, and who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19, or in contact with a COVID-19 patient or suspected patient in the last 28 days, have not travelled to Iran, Italy, South Korea, China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 28 days, and are qualified to donate based on their responses to the donor qualification form should know that their blood does not pose a known risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to a transfusion recipient.

In addition, the Red Cross is taking every possible precaution to promote social distancing and blood drives.

~April 2020

COVID-19 Research in Pathology

The Department of Pathology has a long and rich history of fighting pandemics. In fact, the first Director of Pathology, William Henry Welch, helped lead America's effort to fight the great influenza pandemic of 1918. Today, the Department of Pathology's efforts to help manage the COVID-19 crisis, extends from front line clinical diagnostics to the development of novel therapeutic approaches.

The clinical molecular virology lab in Pathology, led by Karen Carroll, M.D. and Heba Mostafa, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., was one of the first to implement a high throughput, in-house coronavirus screening test in the United States, soon to allow the health system to test as many as 1,000 people per day. The lab used the test, which analyzes a nasal or oral swab, for the first time on March 11, 2020. Over 1,000 patients have been tested using this protocol. Soon we will be testing over 1,000 patients a day.

Efforts continue to improve diagnostic testing and to develop new treatments, so that the Department of Pathology can provide cutting-edge patient care for this and other novel viral pathogens. For example, Benjamin Larman, Ph.D. is deploying sophisticated molecular tests to discover host biomarkers that will identify patients at high risk for poor outcomes. Mario Caturegli, M.D.,Ph.D. is developing a new serology test that can be used to determine who has recovered from the infection, as well as new tests for "cytokines," small moleculaes produced by the immune system that may cause harm in patients with the infection. Pathologist, Daniela Cihakova, M.D., Ph.D., instituted a collaborative research project with Nisha Gilotra, M.D., in the Division of Cardiology, to biopsy patients with COVID-19 myocarditis (heart inflammation) to analyze the viral load and immune cells infiltrating the heart, in an effort to understand the pathogenesis of this facet of the disease which may p rogress rapidly. In parallel, Jonathan Schneck, M.D., Ph.D., is leading an effort to identify immune responses to COVID-19 infections that can be helpful diagnostically and may be translated into cellular therapies. The Department of Pathology is also developing new approaches, led by Evan Bloch, M.B.Ch.B., M.S. and Aaron Tobian, M.D., Ph.D., to treat infected patients using plasma antibodies from patients who have recovered from the infection for treatment of individuals exposed to the virus. Finally, Drs. TC Wu and Chien-Fu Hung are working to develop a novel vaccine to prevent the infection.

To learn more about our COVID-19 research, visit:

~March 2020

Passing of Dr. Belur Bhagavan

SERVICE UPDATE (March 9, 2020)

Belur Bhagavan's family has decided, with an abundance of caution, to postpone the memorial service originally scheduled on Saturday March 14th. They have a number of elderly family and friends traveling great distances and feel it would be safest to reschedule for the fall.

As soon as the memorial is rescheduled, we'll send out the new date.

Ralph Hruban, MD
Baxley Professor and Director

SERVICE UPDATE (March 5, 2020)

There will be a celebration of the life of Dr. Belur S. Bhagavan taking place on:

Saturday, March 14, 2020
1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
The Renaissance Hotel, Baltimore Inner Harbor
202 Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

RSVP is requested:

Belur BhagavanIt is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of our dear friend, colleague and mentor, Belur Bhagavan (Belur Shamanna Babu Bhagavan Das).

Belur was born in 1934 in India to a family of progressive Bramin theosophists. He graduated from R.G. Kar Medical College, Calcutta, India in 1958 and the following year he married Leela, the love of his life. Belur and Leela had two children, Minni and Manu.

Belur completed his residency in pathology in 1966 at Sinai Hospital here in Baltimore under the guidance of Drs. Tobias Weinberg and Howard D. Dorfman. Belur rose through the ranks at Sinai, and was their Pathologist in Chief and Director of the Laboratories from 1985 to 1999. After one year in New York at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Belur returned to Baltimore as an Associate Professor of Pathology here at Hopkins.

Over the many years he was associated with Hopkins, Belur taught our medical students, residents and fellows, contributed to the diagnostic gastrointestinal pathology service, and was a friend and mentor to many of us. His command over anatomic pathology was most impressive. He would solve diagnostic challenges starting from embryology, moving to histology and finally histopathology. Most impressive was the breadth of his knowledge- as a pathologist he focused on a field (such as pediatric pathology, renal pathology and GI pathology) and mastered it, and then moved on to a new field. Belur was always eager to learn and willing to teach. He had a wonderful, mischievous sense of humor, and a playful smile. His selflessness and wise philosophy were unmatched. He will be dearly missed.

A service is being planned.

~January 2020

Innate lymphoid cells drive pericarditis

Innate Lymphoid Cells

Congratulations Dr. Čiháková on her recent paper in Cell Reports. In this paper Dr. Čiháková shows that innate immune cells play an important role in pericarditis. Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are recently identified innate immune cells that serve important roles in lymphoid tissue formation, repair of damaged tissues, and homeostasis, as well as in immunity against infectious microorganisms. We find that cardiac group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) are essential for the development of IL-33-induced eosinophilic pericarditis. We show a pathogenic role for ILC2s in cardiac inflammation, in which ILC2s activated by IL-33 drive the development of eosinophilic pericarditis in collaboration with cardiac fibroblasts. We also find that eosinophils reside in the mediastinum and can migrate to the heart. Thus, the serous cavities may serve as a reservoir of cardiac-infiltrating eosinophils. In humans, patients with pericarditis show higher amounts of ILCs in pericardial fluid than do healthy controls and patients with other cardiac diseases. We demonstrate that ILCs play a critical role in pericarditis.

Click here to read the article.
Click here to visit the Čiháková Lab.

~March 2020

Congratulations, Dr. Anne Le!

Anne Le, MD, HDR

Congratulations Dr. Anne Le on earning a Blue Flame Award from Addgene! The Blue Flame Award is given to scientists who have plasmid(s) deposited at Addgene that has been distributed at least 100 times. Her dedication to scientific sharing has helped accelerate the speed of scientific research worldwide.

~February 2020

Hopkins Pathology #1 in NIH Funding for 2019

The Blue Ridge Institute released its 2019 rankings of NIH funding to US medical schools, and the Department of Pathology here at Hopkins once again is recognized as the #1 funded pathology department! This makes the department #1 in NIH funding for 12 of the last 13 years. In addition, Sharon Nachman, Susan Eshleman, Mary Glenn Fowler, and Phil Wong were among the top 15 funded pathologists in the US. From fighting HIV in Africa, to cancer in the inner city, our faculty are dedicated to impactful science.
A special thanks to Teresa Healy, Neiksha Stephens, and Ewa Lilly in grants administration for their tireless efforts!

To see the Blue Ridge Institute's full report, click here.

1Johns Hopkins University$60,478,764
2University of Pennsylvania$49,185,913
3Columbia University Health Sciences$35,408,929
4Stanford University$30,439,556
5University of Michigan at Ann Arbor $29,657,632

Click here to view the full list in Pathology.

~February 2020

Congratulations, Denis Wirtz!

Denis Wirtz, Ph.D.Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research and a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with a secondary appointment in Pathology, has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium for his body of scientific work. He is the first engineer and non-MD to be elected.

A member of the 2019 class of inductees, Wirtz will be formally introduced during a ceremony Saturday in Brussels. He also has been invited by the King and Queen of the Belgians to present a public lecture there next year.

My election as a member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium is a truly special recognition as it comes from my country of origin... It also recognizes the prodigiously creative work of my students and fellows over the past 25 years at Johns Hopkins." Denis Wirtz, Ph.D.

The Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium, which is made up of 100 full and associate members, was founded in 1841 and advises the Belgian government on matters pertaining to public health.

Wirtz studies the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of cell motility and adhesion, as well as the nuclear dynamics in health and disease. He collaborates extensively with faculty in the Department of Pathology, including studies of the 3D architecture of cancer.

~January 2020

Dr. Ashley Cimino-Mathews Appointed to USCAP Board

Ashley Cimino-MathewsCongratulations Dr. Ashley Cimino-Mathews! Ashley was just elected to the Board of Directors of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology! She starts her three-year term in this important leadership position on April 1st. Also joining the board is our former resident Dr. Anil Parwani.

~January 2020

Congratulations, Norm Barker!

Norman BarkerCongratulations to Norm Barker, Professor of Pathology & Art as Applied to Medicine, for his work's recognition in the Nikon Small World photomicrography competition! Norm and Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue collaborated to capture this stunning image of zebrafish embryos.

Nikon Small World Calendar celebrates its 45th year in 2020. This year's contest drew imagemakers from 98 different countries, as well as from a diverse range of academic and professional disciplines. The winners came from many different fields such as chemistry, biology, materials research, botany, and pathology.

The photomicrograph shows several genetically engineered zebrafish embryos expressing green and red fluorescent proteins. This low-power image is captured with a combination Fluorescence and Differential Interference Contrast technique. The photomicrograph was first published in the book Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science, which was a collaboration between an artist and scientist. Norm and Chris worked together on this beautiful coffee table book. The traveling exhibit from the book is still on tour and currently on view at the State University of New York in the Adirondacks.

The image shows how animal models are an important tool in a medical researcher's arsenal to study disease. One such animal model relies on the species Danio rerio, a popular aquarium fish that is better known as zebrafish. Zebrafish models are particularly useful for studying embryologic development because the embryos are translucent, permitting the visualization of organ development. In this example, researchers have applied cloning methods to incorporate genes that express fluorescent proteins into the zebrafish genome. Red fluorescent proteins are produced in all cells of the zebrafish embryo, whereas green fluorescent proteins are produced only in the cells that develop into the eye, brain and pancreas. x20

zebrafish embryos
click image to enlarge

~January 2020

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