Newark, NJ --Patricia Tsang, M.D., Chairperson of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, recently became board certified in Molecular Genetic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology. Dr. Tsang is one of only two pathologists in New Jersey to have this qualification, and one of 29 pathologists in the United States to hold dual subspecialty board certifications in Molecular Genetic Pathology and Hematologic Pathology.
“Molecular genetic pathology is the fastest growing field in laboratory science, and it has tremendous application for improving patient care, advancing research and educating young physicians,” says Dr. Tsang. “It is important to stay on the cutting edge of molecular genetic pathology because it will become the platinum standard of care.”
Molecular Genetic Pathology: Improving Patient Care
In the past, patients had to wait for infectious organisms to be cultured and typed, sometimes taking 2 to 4 days for final results. Now, with molecular genetic pathology techniques, and the expertise of trained physicians like Dr. Tsang, the laboratory can decide in a matter of a few hours whether a patient sample contains the genetic material of certain infectious organisms.
Such rapid genetic analysis can expedite patient care and reduce patient stress, Dr. Tsang relates. Molecular genetic tests are also thought to be more sensitive than traditional cultures, with potentially fewer false negative results.
Molecular genetic testing also plays a critical role in the evaluation of some cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphoma. It is useful for identifying specific genetic changes in certain cancers, which are important for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of patients.
“With these techniques we can drill down to the gene level, and be more even specific in our assessment of the cancer, “says Dr. Tsang.
Genetic Tests Help Fight Infection
Under Dr. Tsang’s directorship of the laboratories, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center became the first institution in New Jersey to implement real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing for Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) surveillance in early 2006. This molecular technique enables same-day result, contributing to a dramatic decline in the incidence of MRSA in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
An estimated 5,000 people a year die from infection with MRSA, according to the CDC. The spread of drug-resistant strains of staph infections is particularly worrisome because they can become deadly in patients whose immune systems are compromised. The new rapid-testing regimen allows the hospital to scan samples for signs of the bacteria, identifying drug-resistant strains in a few hours.
Pathologist on the Forefront of Technology
Dr. Tsang’s involvement in molecular pathology began when she was a resident at Columbia University Medical Center. While at Columbia, her molecular research study entitled “Molecular Characterization of Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma” was selected for Best Paper Award by the American Registry of Pathology /Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Her interest in molecular pathology and lymphoma continued while she worked at Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Under Dr. Tsang’s guidance, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is in the process of establishing a full-service, state-of-the-art molecular diagnostic laboratory, made possible by a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. The laboratory will have a broad range of oncologic, hematologic and infectious disease applications and will be a source of advanced training for physicians in training.
For More Information
The main phone number for Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, located at 201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace in Newark, is (973) 926-7000, or visit www.barnabashealth.org. For physician referral information, please call 1-888-724-7123.
Date: January 10, 2008
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