Webinar: Autopsy Insights into the Pathogenesis of COVID-19: Questions and Answers

This webinar saw close to 300 participants; thank you again for your participation. 

Due to the heavy volume of participation and the extent of engagement from the attendees, we followed up with our speakers Drs. L. Maximilian Buja (LMB) and Richard Vander Heide (RVH), who diligently responded to the questions that could not be addressed due to time limitations. 

You are welcome to explore these Q&A as they are split below in categories focusing on: Autopsies; Endothelium; Lung Pathology; Heart Pathology; Kidney Pathology; Overall Pathology; Pediatric COVID-19; Hypotheses, Co-Morbidities, and Underlying Mechanisms; Treatment and Therapy; Genetics; General; and Cytokine Storm/Immune Response

We welcome you to send any additional questions and comments for the speakers LMB and RVH, and copy the moderator, Dr. Chhavi Chauhan in your email to continue this engaging and informative dialog.


  1. Are there any autopsy done in Spain? (with the big number of mortality).

LMB: There have been autopsy reports from Italy but not from Spain to my knowledge. 

  1. Have either of you had any mild/asymptomatic patients who died of other causes to see what mild cases are looking like?

LMB: Yes, a case comes to mind of an obese diabetic with a 1000 gm heart who had a 14 day course and showed a relatively mild interstitial lymphocytic pneumonitis rather than the florid DAD. 

RVH:  No, we have only seen severe cases where all patients have died.

  1. Are there any autopsy series of mild/asymptomatic patients that died of other causes?

LMB: Probably, some are dying with COVID and others of COVID.

  1. Have you compared autopsies of those who were on chloroquine and those without? If so were there any differences?

LMB: No.  I haven’t delved that deeply into the histories.  But, in general, Houston is not a hotbed of chloroquine use.

RVH: We had a couple of patient treated with chloroquine early but no organized studies.


  1. Have you seen virions in pericytes?

LMB: See: Tavazzi G et al. Eur J Heart Failure 2020 doi: 10.102/ejhf.1828 and Chen L et al. Cardiovasc Res doi:10.1093/cvr/cvaa078

RVH:  I have not published any picture to date of virus localization in the heart.

  1. So, the systemic damage is due to the endothelium infection and the cytokine release? or there could be due to virus tropisms to other organs?

LMB: See hypothesis papers by McGonagle D et al.  And Ackermann et al.

McGonagle D et al. www.lancet.com/rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1016/52665-9913(20)30121-1

McGonagle D et al. www.lancet.com/respiratory. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30244-7

McGonagle D et al. Autoimmunity Revs. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2020.102537

Ackernann et al. NEJM. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa2015432

RVH:  That is my current hypothesis.  We are still testing the hypothesis.  My last slide outlines my thinking.

Lung Pathology:

  1. You mentioned intravascular megakaryocytes in lung from COVID19 patient? isn’t it? Could you explain it?

LMB: It is now known that there is traffic of megakaryocytes via the venous system from bone marrow to lung.  The pulmonary megakaryocytes are an important source of platelet production along with megakaryocytes of the bone marrow.  It has been documented that there is an increase in megakaryoctyes in diffuse alveolar damage.  

See: Mandal RV et al. Exp Molec Pathol 2007;83:327-331.  

A major theme of our webinar is that the DAD in severe COVOD-19 respiratory diseases is a particularly exaggerated and florid form of DAD which includes marked increase in pulmonary megakaryocytes and pulmonary platelet production.

RVH: Yes the degree to which we see the megakaryocytes indicates that it is unique to COVID-19

  1. You mentioned vacuoles in lung phagocytes. Any idea what these are? Immunogold and EM might help here?

LMB: Vacuolization of alveolar macrophages is a rather common and non-specific finding.  Immunogold is challenging but with proper reagents could provide sensitive localization of viral products.

RVH:  I agree it would theoretically be possible but difficult in post mortem tissue.

  1. It seemed to me that the major pathology was the microangiopathy causing variety of lesion in different organs. Just wondering when the virus is inhaled, what is the initial pathology seen in the lung before causing microangiopathy? or microangiopathy is the first event seen and later leading to hyaline membrane formation and necrosis of the spenumocytes?

LMB: We are limited because the pulmonologists around the world are not doing endobronchial biopsies because of safety concerns. My thought is that the virus induces initial damage to endothelium and type-II pneumocytes leading to rapidly developing capillary leak resulting in hyaline membranes and essentially simultaneous activation of the intra-capillary thrombotic process. 

RVH:  I agree; it seems that why COVID is so lethal is that it get into the deep pulmonary tissues before typical influenza type viral infection.  The exact sequence is not known but likely DAD process is initiated first.

  1. Also, concerning platelets in the lung capillaries – were these based on H&E of just CD61 staining, given that CD61 could also stain capillary endothelial cells. How often is this ([latelet thrombi) found in all of your patients and were these associated with systemic thrombocytopenias??

LMB: The CD61 positive structures are all intra-capillary and not lining the capillaries.  They consist of larger megakaryocytes and small bodies representing platelets.  Also, See response to question 2.  Paradoxically, at least to me, Mandal et al found that patients with DAD and blood platelet counts of over 350,000 per cubic cm had increased survival.

  1. To Dr Vander Heide, what type of co-infection did you find in lungs (e.g. sarcocystis pn) of some patient?

LMB: We had some cases with superimposed bacterial bronchopneumonia.

RVH:  We have seen superimposed bronchopneumonia but it is not common in our cohort.  We have not seen other viral infections but have not looked.

  1. Interested in Dr Buja’s slide from China suggesting viral and atypical co-pathogens in COVID. We have just finished and are submitting for publication a study of over 100 COVID ICU patients where we have specifically looked for bacterial co-pathogens, including viruses and mycoplasma using molecular methods. We found a very small proportion of viral co-infection only; a high rate of false Positive mycoplasma serology, not proven with molecular diagnostics. What is the US experience and specifically, are late lung complications considered specific for COVID, or long-term ventilation and critical illness?

LMB: As I mentioned in my talk, the high viral co-infection in the Chinese series was during the winter.  I think this is going to be less of an issue in the USA in the spring and summer months, at least.  I am very worried about the combo of COVID and influenza going into the fall months.  

The data regarding co-infection is cited in a reference  in Geng YJ et al. 

Geng YJ, Wei ZY, Qian HY, Huang J, Lodato R, Castriotta RJ. Pathophysiological characteristics and therapeutic approaches for pulmonary injury and cardiovascular complications of coronavirus disease 2019. Cardiovasc Pathol. 2020;47:107228. doi:10.1016/j.carpath.2020.107228

Another nice review is Madjid M, Safavi-Naeini P, Solomon SD, Vardeny O. Potential Effects of Coronaviruses on the Cardiovascular System: A Review [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 27]. JAMA Cardiol. 2020;10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1286. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1286

I think the complications are going to be those generic to severe DAD.

RVH:  I agree

  1. How do pulmonary findings compare to those of SARS-infection?  I mean SARS versus SARS-cov2. 

LMB: General similarities but this new SARS-Co-V2 is worse.  I discuss this with references in my paper shown above. 

RVH:  Yes, the DAD findings are very similar but the clots, both large and small, are not typical of SARS.

  1. Comparison also with Resp Syncytial Virus in lung? 

LMB: RSV produces generally a much milder morphological pattern of interstitial pneumonitis.

RVH: I agree.

  1. Had you seen increases numbers of iron-laden macrophages within the lung.

LMB: We haven’t stained for hemosiderin.  But not obvious on H&E.

RVH:  Good question; we have not seen it despite the large amount of hemorrhage we see in most cases.  I think it is the acuity of the bleed that explains the lack of hemosiderin.

  1. Do you believe that inappropriately activated monocytes might play a part in lung damage?

LMB: Absolutely.  See the McGonagle articles.  Also: 

Morphoproteomics and Etiopathogenic Features of  Pulmonary COVID-19 with Therapeutic Implications: A Case Study . Robert E. Brown1, Dwayne A. Wolf2, Robert L. Hunter1, Bihong Zhao1, and L. Maximilian Buja,  

 Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, vol. 50, no. 3, 2020

RVH:  Please see our Lancet study and my last slide; we think a cytokine storm is an important component of severe COVID-19 disease.  The factors that lead to activation of the cytokine storm in some but not other patients will likely provide insight into the clinical course of the disease.

  1. You mentioned vacuoles in lung phagocytes. Any idea what these are? Immunogold and EM might help here?

LMB: See answer to question 10.

  1. Do you have IHC or EM evidence of SARS-CoV-2 viral infection of endothelial cells or pericytes in the LUNG. Please describe the evidence.

LMB: See the references cited in my paper and the electron micrograph in Dr. Vander Heide’s paper – Fox SE et al. 

RVH:  We have not seen virus in pulmonary endothelial cells; to date only pneumocytes.  The pericyte and endothelial cell lie underneath the basement membrane so it may take some close EM examination to determine the difference between the two.

Heart Pathology:

  1. Have you done viral protein staining in heart? Is that myofiber degeneration correlate with viral staining?

LMB: We have performed some IHC for viral nucleocapsid staining in the heart. We have seen some localization primarily in interstitial cells.  As Dr. Vander Heide emphasized the cardiomyocyte injury appears to be secondary to endothelial and interstitial cell infection.

RVH:  To date, we have not seen virus in a myocyte.

  1. What stain are you using to identify granulocytes? How do we know that basophilic degeneration in cardiac myocytes is not occurring because of underlying CVD?

LMB: Granulocytes best identified by good old H&E morphology.  Basophilic degeneration is a non-specific finding. The more pertinent lesion is multifocal single cardiomyocyte cell necrosis related to the microvascular changes described by Dr. Vander Heide – swollen cardiac capillary endothelial cells and lots of neutrophils in the capillaries.

RVH:  We used a myeloperoxidase stain to look for granulocytes.  Works well.  Agree, basophilic degeneration is non-specific but that occurred in a young patient.

  1. Can it be ischemic necrosis of the cardiomyocytes?

LMB: Patients present with elevated serum troponin before going into shock.  The multifocal cardiomyocyte damage is likely due to MICROVASCULAR ischemia due to changes at the arteriolar to capillary level.

RVH:  Yes; please see my last slide on the hypothesis.  We feel it is small vessel disease that underlies the small troponin elevations seen in most patients.

  1. Brown pigment in cardiomyocytes: ceroid-lipofuscin pigment?

LMB: Always have some peri-nuclear lipofuscin in cardiomyocytes.  I didn’t show my preliminary IHC of heart because I am still in the process of  sorting out true staining of cardiomyoctyes.

RVH:  We see a lot of lipofuscin in the myocytes; we have not specifically investigated it but I would render a soft guess that it is increased if anything.

  1. Any evidence if the virus is localized within the cardiomyocytes?

LMB: None yet.  See the Tarazzi reference Question 6.

RVH:  Not to date.

Kidney Pathology:

  1. Is the glomerular thrombosis the result of SARS-2 cytopathic effect on the glomerular endothelium? Do you see evidence of tubular renal damage (hypoxic or direct cytopathic effect)? What’s the pathogenesis of the liver damage? Did you see any lesion in the brain? 

LMB: Only a minority of cases have rip roaring glomerular capillary thrombosis, undoubtedly due to viral infection of endothelium.  Most renal failure is due to secondary acute tubular necrosis. 

See: Menter T, Haslbauer JD, Nienhold R, et al. Post-mortem examination of COVID19 patients reveals diffuse alveolar damage with severe capillary congestion and variegated findings of lungs and other organs suggesting vascular dysfunction [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 4]. Histopathology. 2020;10.1111/his.14134. doi:10.1111/his.14134

RVH:  We see a lot of virus in the renal tubular cells and we believe there is a cytopathic effect of the virus above and beyond typical acute tubular necrosis seen in terminal patients and patients with hypotension.

Overall Pathology:

  1. Please identify the specific cells in which direct cytopathic effects of the COVID-19 virus have been demonstrated.

LMB: Virus has been found by IHC, in situ hybridization and/or EM in endothelial cells in several organs as well as in type II pneumocytes.

RVH:  At this time, I think renal and pulmonary involvement (including respiratory epithelium) can lead to direct damage specific to the virus.  The other changes seen in the liver, brain, spleen, and lymph nodes could be secondary changes.

  1. Have you seen any ocular involvement? Choroiditis

LMB: Beyond my expertise.  We initially were reluctant to harvest brain because of risk of release of contaminated bone dust. We have now, however, taken a couple of brains.

RVH:  We have not looked.

  1. With that amount of thrombi, including medium- and large-sized vessels, how long do you think can a patient live once thrombosis starts to “block| the whole circulatory system? 

LMB: Not long.  Early anticoagulant and antithrombotic treatment is critical in my view.  See: guidelines recently published for prevention, antithrombotic therapy and follow-up for thrombotic and thromboembolic disease in COVID-19 patients.  See Bikdeli B et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. Doi:https//:doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.04.031

RVH:  I agree.  I think once it start, it is a vicious cycle.

Pediatric COVID-19

  1. The thrombotic microangiopathy — is it any different between adults and children?

LMB and RVH: Do not know.

  1. Have you had any pediatric case? If yes, was it similar to adults or any unique finding?

LMB and RVH: No.

Hypotheses, Co-Morbidities, and Underlying Mechanisms:

  1. We understand that there is no evidence for viremia.  What is the hypothesis for endothelial cells being infected?

LMB: I disagree.  There has to be viremia.  There is good evidence by EM and IHC for infection of endothelial cells.  

See the proposed three stages of disease.  Akhmerov A, Marban E Circ Res doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.317055

RVH:  There almost certainly has to be a viremia to have the systemic effects.

  1. Endothelial dysfunction as in defected activation in response to viral infection? Are there evidence of ICAM-1 up regulation or type I interferons around the swelling endothelium? Is  the hypothesis that neutrophil transmigration is specifically unregulated in response to covid in the most severe cases?

LMB: See hypothesis papers by McGonagle D et al.  And Ackermann et al.

McGonagle D et al. www.lancet.com/rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1016/52665-9913(20)30121-1

McGonagle D et al. www.lancet.com/respiratory. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30244-7

McGonagle D et al. Autoimmunity Revs. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2020.102537

Ackernann et al. NEJM. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa2015432

Also, guidelines recently published for prevention, antithrombotic therapy and follow-up for thrombotic and thromboembolic disease in COVID-19 patients.  See Bikdeli B et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. Doi:https//:doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.04.031

RVH:  We have not looked specifically.  The neutrophil response is a unique observation and I think that the activated platelets lead to the extracellular traps.

  1. Is there any hypotheses regarding the mechanism of expansion of megakaryocytes in the bone marrow?  They are released into the venous circulation and so are likely simply trapped in the pulmonary capillaries and don’t need a stimulus, but they must be proliferating for some reason?  Is there expansion of any myeloid, lymphoid or erythroid populations in the bone marrow?  Thank you.

LMB: See response to question 2. We have not been taking bone marrow until recently.  Dr. Vander Heide reported hypercellularity of the bone marrow.

RVH:  yes we see upregulation of megakaryocytes in the bone marrow and I suspect the response is secondary to viral infection and may be responsible for the associated coagulopathy

  1. Do you think that administration of TNF-alfa inhibitors could improve the outcome of the more severe clinical signs?

LMB: Yes.  See McGonagle articles.

RVH:  Yes, people are trying different anti-cytokine therapies and even steroids.

  1. With regard to lymphocytic cuffing and interstitial pneumonitis, has lymphocrypt virus been investigated as a comorbidity?

LMB: Frankly, I never heard of lymphocrypt virus, so the answer is no.

RVH:  I have not heard of that organism either.

  1. Any thoughts on why only a subset of those with chronic lung disease /cardiovascular disease susceptible, while those e.g. with asthma, smoking, COPD, etc. seem not to be so much at risk?

LMB: There is no question that patients with chronic cardiovascular and/or pulmonary disease are at increased risk.  But fatal cases have occurred in previously healthy young patients.

RVH:  we have seen death in all those kinds of patients.  I think COPD patients have limited reserve and may succumb more easily.  The co-morbidities we see include obesity, HTN, Type2 DM, and kidney disease (which runs with HTN and DM).  I agree the presence in younger patients is interesting and similar in some ways to the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Treatment and Therapy:

  1. Can we start anti-coagulant therapy and immunosuppressants from the beginning of hospitalization in patients without any comorbidities?

LMB: Yes.  See: Bikdeli B et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. Doi:https//:doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.04.031

RVH:  I think this is already being done.

  1. Did any of the treatments modify the pathology?

LMB: This is a work in progress that is going to take ongoing clinicopathological correlation in more cases. Importantly several cases from Houston and LSUNO were early deaths without compounding influences of mechanical ventilation, etc. 

RVH:  I agree.


  1. Any genetic predisposition?

LMB: All acquired diseases involve environmental factors interacting with a genetically predisposed host.  In this case, genetic factor may be level of expression and isotype of ACE2 receptor and HLA antigens influencing TOLL receptors.  Environmental factor is dose of the virus.

RVH:  I think this is an important and necessary area of investigation.

  1. Any genetic predisposition for severe inflammatory cascade?

LMB: Undoubtedly.

RVH:  Yes, see above answer; should be investigated.


  1. Aren’t COVID toes a manifestation of the skin changes?

LMB: See Magro C et al. Translational Research https:doi.org/10>1016/j.trsl.2020.04.007  Three cases with thrombotic microangiopathy in the skin.

  1. These patients with megakariocytes hyperplasia have anemia? did you find many changes in bone marrow or virions particles inner it?

LMB: Patients don’t have anemia.  Dr. Vander Heide reports bone marrow hypercellularity.  Not sure about identification of virus in the bone marrow.

RVH:  I don’t see unexplained anemia that may be explained by the virus.

  1. There are several cases in tropical countries, what do you think about it?

LMB: This virus does not care about race, ethnicity, country of origin, etc.  Not likely to have a summer lull like with influenza.

RVH:  The world will be infected especially in this day of easy travel.

  1. The EM of virion looks like clathrin coated vesicles. How can you be sure they are virions?

LMB: All vesicular structures reported as virus likely are not virus.  Need to see the right size of about 100 nanometers and the spike protein.  See: Calomeni E et al. Multivesicular bodies mimicking SARS-CoV-2 in patients without COVID-19. Kidney Internatl. https:doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2020.05.003.

In my paper, in retrospect, Figure 12B is probably one of these multivesicular bodies.  However, I think Figure 12C is  a real virus particle.

RVH:  This is an area of controversy.  We compare our viral particles to control tissues harvested at the same time so we are fairly confident that they are viral particles but in post mortem tissue it is not easy to entirely sure.

  1. Can you say more about the nucleocapsid IHC – how specific is this (?compared with non-COVID-19 coronaviruses)?

LMB: I don’t know about cross-reactivity of our IHC for original SARS versus SARS-CoV-2, but I think there is selectivity versus influenza.

RVH:  I would defer to the company making the antibody.

  1. Do you think the ventilator may cause some lesion?

LMB: Undoubtedly patients with hospital course with high dose oxygen, ventilator and ECMO have complex pathology.  But some of our cases are pure COVID-19 without these interventions.

RVH:  I agree.

  1. Do you have the viral load data of these patient?

LMB: No.  And I don’t know anyone has this type of data.  Testing for virus and antibody level is far from high specificity and sensitivity.

RVH:  No data.

  1. Have you seen any peripheral manifestations of vascular changes / thrombosis? Gangrenous changes in hands / feet?

LMB: Haven’t seen peripheral gangrene.  Have seen thrombi in peritesticular veins.

RVH:  We have not seen any as of yet.

  1. Have you seen any patient who was healthy until Covid19 (absolutely with no other commodities like obesity, DM, hypertension, coinfection?

LMB: Unfortunately, Yes.  Dr. Vander Heide presented several cases of relatively young folks with some increased weight but not severely obese.  Two of our cases died outside of hospital after a short illness.

RVH:  Yes, there are some patients that just succumb within days of first symptoms.

  1. CD31 (PECAM) also stains activated platelets so they could be platelet microthrombi adherent to the endothelium/intima rather than or as well as swollen endothelium.

LMB: It is both – damaged/swollen endothelium plus fibrin/platelet microthrombi.

RVH: I agree.

  1. I am curious about localization within the brain.  What can you tell us about that?

LMB: See: Li YC et al. J Med Virol 2020 doi: 10.1002/jmv.25728 and Paniz-Mondolfi A et al. J Med Virol 2020 doi: 10.1002/jmv.25915

RVH:  We have not looked.

  1. Have you seen anything by EM within the swollen type II pneumocytes? 

LMB: In my autopsy material, I could not find virus in the lung but did find an occasional virion in renal glomerular epithelial cell – See figure 12 c in my paper. See the EM of lung in Dr. Vander Heide’s paper.  Not yet published, by IHC we did find viral protein in some pneumocytes.

RVH:  Yes, we haves seen viral particles in the lung pneumocytes.  We have seen them in renal tubular epithelium as well.

  1. Have you seen putative virions in pericytes?

LMB: See answer to question 1 (Endothelium).

  1. Comment on the megakaryocytes. We see intrapulmonary and intravascular megakaryocytes in animals, especially dogs in cases of bacterial infection and sepsis. This is particularly evident when the lymphoid organs follicles are depleted of lymphocytes. Perhaps when you see megakaryocytes in your human patients these patients have secondary bacterial conditions or a systemic depletion – utilization of leukocytes due to the virus. 

LMB: See answer to question 1 (Lung Pathology).

Cytokine Storm/Immune Response:

  1. From IHC for Sars-Cov-2, the infected cells are very few. How such low infection could cause whole body cytokine storm? What is your thought?

LMB: We are looking at autopsy cases several days to weeks into the course of illness.  This is after the acute infective and viremic phase.  Much of what we are seeing is the effect of hyper-inflammation triggered by the virus.  Identifiable virus likely much higher earlier on.

RVH: I agree.

  1. Is there evidence for complement deposition in the lung?

LMB and RVH: We have no direct evidence, but I think it has to be.  We could consider doing IFC/IHC for C4d and C3d like we do for antibody-mediated rejection in post-transplant biopsies.  The endothelial swelling shown by Dr. Vander Heide in the COVID-19 hearts is very similar to that seen in the “endotheliitis” in AMR.

  1. The levels of the cytokines in COVID-19 are very low compared to a septic patient, or patients treated with CAR-T cells. How confident are you that a cytokine storm actually is present.

LMB: Blood levels of Il-6 and other cytokines are definitely increased.  I am sure there are levels of storms. In New Orleans and Houston, we have squalls, tropical storms and hurricanes categories 1 to 5.  

RVH:  I think the seriously ill patients/ patients that die have high cytokine levels.  Obviously, not all people infected with the virus develop large increases.

  1. Do you think there is a direct viral damage to endothelium or is this indirect via cytokines?

LMB: There is good published evidence of virions inside of endothelial cells.  Elevated cytokines including IL-6 and TNF-alpha probably contribute. 

RVH:  See my last hypothesis slide I think it could be either or both.

  1. Do you think that serosae (pleura, peritoneum) could also be target for the virus or would that be rather secondary to inflammatory syndrome?

LMB: We have observed a lymphocytic epicarditis in the heart.  Not impressed with pleuritis and peritonitis.  However, one of our medical examiner cases had an empyema.  Probably had bacterial pneumonia leading to empyema with cotemporary COVID with DAD in the opposite lung.

RVH:  We have also seen lymphocytic epicarditis in the heart.  Any pleuritic that we see (not much) is likely a secondary change to the lung damage/inflammation.

Supporting References:

Barth RF, Xu X, Buja LM. A Call to Action: The Need for Autopsies to Determine the Full Extent of Organ Involvement Associated With COVID-19 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 10]. Chest. 2020;S0012-3692(20)30687-5. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2020.03.060

Buja LM, Wolf DA, Zhao B, et al. The emerging spectrum of cardiopulmonary pathology of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Report of 3 autopsies from Houston, Texas, and review of autopsy findings from other United States cities [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 7]. Cardiovasc Pathol. 2020;48:107233. doi:10.1016/j.carpath.2020.107233

Brown RE, Wolf DA, Hunter RL, Zhao B, Buja LM. Morphoproteomics and Etiopathogenic Features of Pulmonary COVID-19 with Therapeutic Implications: A Case Study  Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, vol. 50, no. 3, 2020 In press.

Fox SE, Akmatbekov A, Harbert JL, Li G, Quincy Brown J, Vander Heide RS. Pulmonary and cardiac pathology in African American patients with COVID-19: an autopsy series from New Orleans [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 27]. Lancet Respir Med. 2020;S2213-2600(20)30243-5. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30243-5

Robin G. Lorenz, MD, PhD – Member Spotlight

Robin G. Lorenz, MD, PhD
Senior Director, Department of Pathology
Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, CA, USA

Dr. Robin Lorenz is a long-time member of the American Society for Investigative Pathology and has recently served in leadership. She was an At-Large Member of the ASIP Council from 2016-2019, and is currently the ASIP Representative to the Training and Career Opportunities Subcommittee of FASEB Science Policy Committee, as well as a current member of the ASIP Meritorious Awards Committee. Dr. Lorenz served as Senior Assistant Editor for The American Journal of Pathology from 2013-2017, and is a current member of the Editorial Board. In 2016, Dr. Lorenz received the ASIP Robbins Distinguished Educator Award.

Dr. Lorenz received her BS in Biology from Stanford University in 1984 and then attended Washington University in St Louis as a Medical Scientist Training Program fellow, where she earned an MD and a PhD in Immunology in 1990. She completed residency training in laboratory medicine (clinical pathology) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and then transitioned to Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Medicine at Washington University in 1994. In addition to directing a basic science research lab focused on chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, Dr. Lorenz served as Co-Director of the Joint Clinical Immunology Laboratory of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St Louis Children’s Hospital and Associate Director of the Laboratory Medicine Residency Training Program. Dr. Lorenz joined the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2002 as an Associate Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2007. Dr. Lorenz’s laboratory at UAB focused on gastrointestinal immune responses to both pathogenic (H. pylori) and commensal microbiota and the impact of these responses on systemic autoimmune diseases and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Dr. Lorenz played many key roles at UAB, including serving as Associate Dean for Physician Scientist Development, Director of the UAB Medical Scientist (MD-PhD) Training Program, and Director of the UAB Medical Student Summer Research Program. At UAB, Dr. Lorenz held secondary faculty appointments in the UAB departments of Medical Education and Microbiology, and was a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Comprehensive Diabetes Center, and the Comprehensive Arthritis, MSK, Bone & Autoimmunity Center. While working at UAB, Dr. Lorenz earned an MS in Healthcare Quality and Safety (2017). Dr. Lorenz has a longstanding involvement in the Academy of Clinical and Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (ACLPS), where she participated in the formulation of a national curriculum for the teaching of clinical immunology. More recently, she was one of the leaders in the national dialogue on whether Pathology should form a research track for Pathology residents. This track was recently endorsed by the American Board of Pathology and is now available to Pathology residents who are training to become physician-scientists.

Dr. Lorenz assumed her new position of Senior Director of Research Pathology at Genentech in South San Francisco, CA in 2018. At Genentech, her department provides high quality pathology support to laboratory and clinical scientists engaged in biomarker strategy/development/deployment across the drug development pipeline. These activities extend into “late stage” clinical development efforts (Phase III clinical trials). The Research Pathology department provides Research and Development personnel with intellectual and technical expertise concerning pathology-related study design, tissue selection, microscopic interpretation, analytical techniques, and support for regulatory and clinical queries. The Pathologists’ collaborative support of research and development scientists include histopathology interpretive expertise informed by traditional diagnostic categories and by detailed and current understanding of molecular and cellular biology. These activities provide cutting edge technology platforms for analysis of fresh, frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissues and cell lines used to assess (i) new therapeutic targets and pathways and (ii) biomarkers relevant to diagnosing and treating human disease. The Department also manages 6 core pathology laboratories that include necropsy, clinical pathology, histopathology, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, a human tissue biorepository, and advanced light microscopy, electron microscopy and digital pathology.

A New Book, “Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning in Pathology” was edited by longtime ASIP Member Dr. Stan Cohen

Stanley Cohen, MD
Stanley Cohen, MD

Recent advances in computational algorithms, along with the advent of whole slide imaging as a platform for embedding artificial intelligence (AI), are transforming pattern recognition and image interpretation for diagnosis and prognosis. Yet most pathologists have just a passing knowledge of data mining, machine learning, and AI, and little exposure to the vast potential of these powerful new tools for medicine in general and pathology in particular. In Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning in Pathology, with a team of experts, Dr. Stanley Cohen covers the nuts and bolts of all aspects of machine learning, up to and including AI, bringing familiarity and understanding to pathologists at all levels of experience. Dr. Cohen is a Past-President of the ASIP and the 2015 recipient of the Gold-Headed Cane Award.

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Long-time ASIP Member L. Maximilian Buja, MD in the news for autopsy research unlocking new COVID Treatments

L. Maximilian Buja, MD

Dr. Buja is Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the McGovern Medical School of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. His scholarly focus is on pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. He is an advocate of the importance of the autopsy in medicine and has written several timely articles advocating for the autopsy.

Houston pathologists hoping autopsy research will help unlock new COVID-19 treatments

Pathologists in the Texas Medical Center are at the forefront of trying to unlock new treatments for COVID-19 patients by studying how people die from the virus. Some of this research has already been published by doctors at UT Health’s McGovern Medical School.

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Katti Crakes, PhD

Congratulations to Dr. Katti Crakes upon the very recent completion and defense of her PhD research. Dr. Crakes is a new member of the ASIP and was planning to attend Experimental Biology 2020 prior to its cancellation.

Dr. Crakes spent the majority of her childhood in Los Angeles CA, but eventually transplanted to New York. She remained in New York for her undergraduate training leading to a BS in Animal Science in 2014 from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). Dr. Crakes moved back to California in 2014 to enter graduate school in the Integrative Pathobiology DVM/PhD program at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Crakes did her PhD research with Dr. Satya Dandekar in Medical Microbiology & Immunology. One of their main research goals was to identify host-microbe interactions in the gut that can restore mucosal health during viral infections. Dr. Crakes investigated the pathogenesis of SIV infection in the gut and mechanisms involved in intestinal barrier damage using a non-human primate model of HIV infection. Her research focused on understanding the role of metabolic pathways on mucosal health at the host-microbe interfaces, particularly in diabetes and HIV infection.

Dr. Crakes has a special interest in comparative animal models from ruminants to companion animals to non-human primates. Having completed her PhD work, Dr. Crakes will return to veterinary school to complete the last 2 years of clinical training. Dr. Crakes is currently an NIH-funded fellow (NIAID F30) and serves as the Student President of the Integrative Pathobiology graduate program, and is also a member of the Chancellor’s Graduate & Professional Student Advisory Board. Dr. Crakes’ long-term goal is to help bridge veterinary and human medicine, to advance funding opportunities in veterinary research, and to champion mental health and wellness in academia. 

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