The West Virginia University School of Medicine announced recently that accreditation was granted for a new fellowship program in cytopathology, the only such fellowship in the state. The fellowship is a one-year program that accepts one fellow per year, and is currently recruiting for a fellow to start in July 2018.

Cytopathology, a subspecialty within the field of pathology, is both a screening and diagnostic technique in which cells from various body sites are examined microscopically to determine the cause or nature of disease. With the continued growth of WVU Medicine, there has been increased demand for cytopathology services throughout the state.

“Cytopathologists use material from minimally invasive procedures to provide diagnostic data that is pivotal in patient treatment, most notably in the detection of cancer and precancerous conditions,” said Melina Flanagan, M.D., program director for the cytopathology fellowship, director of cytopathology, and assistant professor in the Department of Pathology. “This fellowship will help us train more specialists to help our patients and advance the field of cytopathology in West Virginia.”

The cytopathology fellowship offers one of the best training opportunities in the full range of cytopathology services, including diagnosis of gynecologic and non-gynecologic specimens, performance of fine needle aspirations, and rapid-onsite-evaluation of specimens during patient procedures. In addition to a strong focus on clinical cytopathology, the program provides fellows with exposure to scholarly clinical research.

During this one-year fellowship, fellows are involved in cases from all body sites. They learn laboratory methods and techniques, and become proficient at integrating morphologic findings with clinical history as well as ancillary studies such as flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and molecular studies.

The program requires applicants to have completed a residency in either anatomic or anatomic and clinical pathology prior to their fellowship year, and they must obtain a West Virginia state license before admission into the program.

The fellowship program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), a private, non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits graduate medical education (GME) programs. The Department of Pathology currently has one board-certified cytopathologist as well as three additional pathologists who practice cytopathology.