Faculty Educator of the Month: March 2014

Dr. Tariq Muzzafar

Dr. Tariq Muzzafar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematopathology, has been named the March 2014 Faculty Educator of the Month.

As a diagnostic hematopathologist, Dr. Muzzafar is an experienced teacher and supervisor of hematopathology fellows. The Department of Hematopathology has one of the largest hematopathology fellowship training programs in the nation, with six clinical fellows and six international postdoctoral fellows and observers per year. Since 2008, he has mentored 28 clinical fellows in this Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited program. In addition, he has trained visiting residents, fellows, and pathologists from other institutions both within and outside the United States.

Dr. MuzzafarDr. Muzzafar considers his teaching duties as among his most important functions and attempts to make sure that clinical fellows receive adequate exposure to the spectrum of diseases they are likely to encounter in clinical practice either in an academic or community setting. He also considers important preparation of fellows for independent practice in resource-limited settings where ancillary support and intradepartmental consultation may not be as readily available as in an academic institution like ours. Many diseases, especially myelodysplastic syndromes, presenting in the community setting are likely to be at an early stage, and definitive diagnosis or classification may not be possible at onset. Having the appropriate diagnostic threshold in such situations is important to avoid overdiagnosis.

In addition, Dr. Muzzafar seeks to expose fellows to various scenarios they will face in independent practice to show them how they should handle difficult situations and help them be aware of diagnostic pitfalls. In a department with 20 diagnostic hematopathologists, the clinical fellows have voted Dr. Muzzafar as the best teacher in bone marrow pathology twice over the past 6 years.

Dr. Muzzafar has given didactic lectures in the clinical Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program, which have been well appreciated. He also trains bone marrow technologists in manual differential of bone marrow aspirates, which is a critical task in the specialty. In addition, he collaborates with the Department of Leukemia in continuing quality assurance of specimens obtained in the Bone Marrow Aspiration Clinic and has given multiple training sessions to the clinic staff. The goal of this process is to improve the quality of specimens, reduce costs and use of resources, and improve patient care. These efforts have led to positive results.

Dr. Muzzafar has a special interest in myeloid neoplasms, including myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. He assists fellows with research projects that have led to presentations at international meetings like that of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. In addition, he has mentored graduate students at The University of Texas School of Public Health as part of a collaboration with the school to provide practical experience to trainees in research design, statistical analysis, presentation skills, and scientific writing.

Dr. Muzzafar received his M.D. degree from Srinagar Medical College at Kashmir University in Srinagar, India, in 1995. He worked as a resident in medical oncology there before coming to the United States in 1999. He completed a 1-year internship in internal medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York followed by a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology (2000-2004) and a fellowship in neuropathology (2004-2005) at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He also completed a fellowship in Hematopathology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY (2005-2006). After performing research at MD Anderson in 2007, he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematopathology in 2008.

Before he came to MD Anderson, Dr. Muzzafar had considerable experience in classroom and laboratory teaching. As a pathology resident at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, he taught and conducted laboratory work with medical students in a clinical pathophysiology course. Also, as a fellow there, he lectured for a neuropathology course. Furthermore, he taught laboratory technologists at that institution.

Dr. Muzzafar has written numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, 16 book chapters, and several abstracts for international meetings. He is also a peer reviewer for a number of journals, and he has been asked to give presentations at international meetings.