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Annual Report - Winter 2012


Pathologist a role model for high school students


By Carol Bryce

Breast Pathologist Aysegul Sahin, M.D., loves to share her knowledge and experiences with young people. The benefits are far from one-sided, she believes.

“This generation of students — their minds are 
wired so differently,” says the professor in 
MD Anderson’s Department of Pathology. “They’re more computer literate than I am, so they’re more intuitive when it comes to developing shortcuts and figuring things out. I’ve learned many things from them.”

Sahin has long been committed to educating future generations of scientists. As director of 
MD Anderson’s Surgical Pathology Fellowship Program, she’s seen more than 150 fellows complete their surgical pathology training since assuming leadership of the program in 1999. Sahin’s also been director of the Breast Pathology Fellowship Program since 2000.

Recently, she’s broadened her educational focus to include younger students. For the past three years, she has been invited to present lectures on her work to Houston-area high school students.

Refute the television perspective

“The only thing a lot of these kids know about pathology is what they’ve seen on TV shows. So they think all we do is work with dead people. Or with mice,” she laughs.

Many of the students are surprised to learn about the myriad career opportunities open to them within pathology, cancer research and medicine in general. The young women often are especially pleased to see a woman holding a leadership role in a scientific field.

“And when kids are excited, their energy is so impressive,” Sahin remarks.

Her teaching excellence and commitment to the enhancement of health science education were recognized in February 2011 when she was inducted into The University of Texas System Academy of Health Science Education.

The new academy member has ambitious plans for the future. “I’d like to work with the academy to create more outreach programs and summer programs to educate students about medical fields and cancer research,” she says.

“I want to encourage high school and college students — the way I’ve encouraged successful pre-med and medical students. Instill in them a curiosity and desire to carry out research. And give them the opportunity to participate in the medical field.”

Did you know? — In addition to the general surgical pathology fellowship program, Sahin played a major role in the accreditation and curriculum development of subspecialty fellowship programs in nine areas of surgical pathology. These include breast, gynecologic, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract pathology.

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