Faculty Educator of the Month: December 2010

Dr. Gregg A. Staerkel

Dr. Gregg A. Staerkel, Chief of the Section of Cytopathology and Professor in the Department of Pathology and Medical Director and Adjunct Professor in the Program in Cytotechnology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center School of Health Professions, has been named the December 2010 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Since co-founding the Program in Cytotechnology in 1991, Dr. Staerkel has played a key role as Medical Director in training its students and developing the program. In this 1-year tutored program, students attend lectures, review glass slides, and participate in cytology-related laboratory processing designed to help them learn about the proper acquisition, preparation, and morphology of normal, precancerous, and cancerous cells from various body sites. A junior year (studies prior to specific Cytotechnology curriculum) is also offered to fulfill prerequisites and better prepare students for their senior year in Cytotechnology. Those who complete the program receive Bachelor of Science degrees and are eligible for the national certification examination administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.

In addition to his leadership in the Program of Cytotechnology, Dr. Staerkel served as Associate Director (1993-1997) and then Director (1997-2008) of the Cytopathology Fellowship Program. Since 2008, he has continued to provide instruction to fellows in the program. During his tenure as Director, the Cytopathology training program, which is the largest of its kind in the United States, increased from four to six fellows per year.

Dr. Staerkel was honored during graduation ceremonies for the School of Health Professions (2001) by being selected by a vote of all health profession directors to be the inaugural Mace Carrier. Since that year, he continues to carry the mace in recognition as the longest standing faculty medical director.

Dr. Staerkel received his M.D. degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) in 1983. He stayed on at UTMB, completing a Residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology in 1987. After his residency, Dr. Staerkel came to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, completing fellowships in Surgical Pathology in 1988 and Cytopathology in1989. He subsequently achieved certification by the American Board of Pathology in Combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology as well as the subspecialty of Cytopathology.

In 1989, Dr. Staerkel initially received an appointment as Instructor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and joined the MD Anderson faculty 9 months later, also at the rank of Instructor, in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He was promoted to Assistant Professor (tenure track) in the Department of Pathology in 1991, Associate Professor (term tenured) in 1998, and Professor (term tenured) in 2004. Additionally, he was named Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Health Professions in 2002 and finally Adjunct Professor in 2004. Dr. Staerkel is the present Chief of the Section of Cytopathology, a position he has held since January 1, 2008.

Currently, Dr. Staerkel is a member of the institution’s Graduate Medical Education (Vice-Chair) and Continuing Medical Education Advisory (Vice-Chair) Committees. He also serves on the Appointment and Promotion Committee for the School of Health Professions (Vice-Chair), the Advisory and Curriculum Committees for the Program in Cytotechnology, the Cytopathology Selection Committee (past Chair), and the Cytopathology Fellowship Advisory and Curriculum Committees (past Chair). Dr. Staerkel will take over as Chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee in 2011 and of the Continuing Medical Education Advisory Committee in 2012 (he was the latter committee’s Chair in 2004-2006).

Dr. Staerkel co-owns one patent related to the optical detection of cervical neoplasia using fluorescence spectroscopy. He served as Associate Editor for The ASC Bulletin, a publication of the American Society of Cytopathology, for 8 years and has reviewed a number of manuscripts for various journals involving gynecologic cytology and fine needle aspiration. Over the course of his career, Dr. Staerkel has authored 49 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 14 invited articles, and 7 book chapters.