About Pathology

Pathology is a discipline that bridges basic science and clinical practice in the study of how structural changes in cell tissue and organs are caused by disease.

Some of the major areas of research at UW Medicine Pathology include:

  • Aging 
  • Cancer
  • Liver Regeneration 
  • HPV
  • Stem Cell
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular Biology
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Neuropathology
  • Dermatopathology
  • Connective Tissue Biopsy 
  • Cytogenetics
  • Flow Cytometry 
  • and many other clinical specialty areas

UW Medicine Pathology Facts and Figures

  • Established in 1954
  • 72 grants totaling over $32 million in external grants (NIH 2006)
  • 178 Faculty Members
    • 62 Regular Faculty
    • 30 Clinical Faculty
    • 26 Affiliate Faculty
    • 28 Adjunct Faculty
    • 12 Research Faculty
    • 16 Emeriti Faculty
  • 38 Residents and Clinical Fellows
  • 24 Graduate Students
  • Over 400 staff members
  • Research programs in over 50 Laboratories
  • Surgical pathology: over 36,000 cases/year
  • Autopsy pathology: over 200 cases/year

Department Chairs

Earl P. Benditt, M.D.
Professor and Chair, 1957-1981

Dr. Earl Benditt died on May 27, 1996. In 1986 Dr. Benditt became an Emeritus Professor after 29 years of dedicated service to the Department, having served as Chairman from 1957 to 1981. He continued to work in his laboratory and was a Distinguished Physician at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center from 1988 to 1993. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Benditt came to the University of Washington in 1957, after completing post-doctoral training, and joining the faculty at the University of Chicago.

As chairman of a young department, Dr. Benditt quickly moved to build a faculty primarily dedicated to research and teaching. In a few years the clinical activities of the Department were consolidated at the University Medical Center and a UW-based residency program was launched. The department flourished, incorporating and utilizing modern biological techniques to investigate the pathogenesis of human disease. A Ph.D. program in Experimental Pathology was established, which became a model for many programs in the United States and abroad.

In 1975 Dr. Benditt was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He received the Rous Whipple Award (1980) and the Gold Headed Cane Award (1984) from the American Association of Pathologists. In 1989 he received the Distinguished Pathologist Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. He was the President of the American Society for Experimental Pathology from 1975-1976, serving on numerous study section for the National Institute of Health as well as many committees and councils.

Dr. Benditt’s creative and critical approach to science charted the course for the development of academic pathology over the past four decades.

Russell Ross, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, 1982-1994

Dr. Russell Ross died on March 18, 1999. He came to the University of Washington in 1958 as a graduate student in the Experimental Pathology Program directed by Dr. Earl Benditt. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1962, Dr. Ross rose through the faculty ranks and was appointed Professor of Pathology in 1969. As Chair of the Department, Dr. Ross greatly expanded the activities of the department and strengthened both its research and clinical activities to make it one of the top departments of pathology in the country. Because of his dynamic leadership and the work of many colleagues, the University of Washington School of Medicine came to be recognized as an outstanding center for research and training in vascular biology and pathology.

Dr. Ross made notable contributions to the understanding of the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Together with John Glomset, Dr. Ross formulated the “Response to Injury Hypothesis” of atherosclerosis in 1973. The hypothesis, which has been tested and modified from its original formulation, has had a profound impact on atherosclerosis research and vascular biology. Instead of a site for passive accumulation of blood lipids, the artery wall is now seen as a living, reactive tissue capable of mounting an inflammatory response. Dr. Ross and his colleagues are credited with many major discoveries.

Dr. Ross was honored with many awards, honorary professorships, and lectureships. In just one year, 1998, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of for Cardiovascular Pathology, the Louis and Artur Lucian Award for Research in Circulatory Diseases from McGill University in Montreal, the International Okamoto Award from the Japanese Vascular Disease Research Foundation, and presented the first Distinguished Vascular Biology Lecture of the American Heart Association. He was past president of the American Society for Investigative Pathology and in 1992 received the Society’s Rous-Whipple Award. He was also a member of the Editorial Board of The American Journal of Pathology.

Dr. Ross was a member of many national and international committees, chaired and co-chaired 15 research conferences, and served as a consultant to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1987. He was heavily involved in community activities and was a longstanding member of the Board of Trustees, the Artistic Advisory Committee, and the Planning Committee of the Seattle Symphony.

Dr. Ross was a very productive scientist and an outstanding teacher. He trained a large number of post-doctoral fellows who went on to have distinguished careers of their own in this country and around the world.

Nelson Fausto, M.D.
Professor and Chair, 1994-2011

Nelson Fausto, MD, died on April 2, 2012 after a long struggle with multiple myeloma. Nelson touched so many around the world in his roles as teacher, mentor, leader, and friend. We are deeply fortunate to have had Nelson as our colleague at the University of Washington. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what our personal and professional lives will be like without his cheerfulness, generosity, grace, and gentle insistence on excellence.

Nelson was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he graduated from Rio Branco College (B.S.) and then the University of Sao Paulo (M.D.). Following internship and fellowship, Nelson briefly joined the faculty at the University of Sao Paulo before starting his illustrious career in the United States. Nelson joined the Department of Pathology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, first as a fellow and then as faculty for five years before relocating to Brown University as an Assistant Professor of Medical Science (Pathology). Nelson held many important positions at Brown including Director of the Cancer Biology Program, Deputy Director of the Roger Williams/Brown University Cancer Center, Asa Messer Professor, and founding Chair of the Department of Pathology. The University of Washington was enormously fortunate to recruit Nelson and Ann De Lancey, his beloved wife, to join our faculty in 1994 when he became the third Chair of the Department of Pathology. During his tenure as Department Chair at UW, Nelson grew the size and improved the quality of our clinical, teaching, and research programs, achieving for the department the prestigious position of most highly NIH-funded Department of Pathology in the United States. Nelson’s own highly respected research program focused on liver development and regeneration, stem cells and hepatic cell lineages, hepatocellular carcinoma, and Hepatitis C virus. Nelson won many awards and honors for teaching, research, and leadership in Pathology; indeed, there are few awards that he has not received. The most notable of these awards are the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (2009), the Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho Medal from the University of Sao Paulo (2009), the Gold-Headed Cane Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology (2010), and the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Pathology Chairs (2012). However, he was most proud of the thousands of us around the globe who learned from Robbins and Cotran, Pathologic Basis of Disease (Kumar, Abbas, and Fausto; Elsevier), the hundreds of medical students who year after year selected him for teaching awards, the thirty-one post-doctoral fellows who launched their careers in his laboratory, and the twenty-two graduate students who received their Ph.D. under his mentorship.

Thomas Montine, M.D., Ph.D.
Alvord Professor and Chair, 2011-Present

Dr. Montine received his education at Columbia University (BA in Chemistry), the University of Rochester (PhD in Pharmacology), and McGill University (MD and CM). His postgraduate medical training was at Duke University, and he was junior faculty at Vanderbilt University where he was awarded the Thorne Professorship in Pathology.

Currently, Dr. Montine is the Alvord Endowed Chair in Neuropathology and Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington where he is Professor of Pathology and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery; he also is Adjunct Professor of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University. The Department of Pathology at the University of Washington, along with its affiliated institutions in Seattle, has over two hundred faculty, is consistently among the top Departments of Pathology in NIH funding, is a regional reference laboratory for the Pacific Northwest, and is the Pathology training program for the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI) partnership.  UW Pathology is home to the Center for Precision Diagnostics and the Center for Heart Regeneration, enterprise-wide efforts that bridge from fundamental research to clinical applications.

Dr. Montine is the Director of the Pacific Northwest Udall Center (one of 10 NINDS-funded Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research) and is the Director of the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (one of 15 such NIA-funded centers). Both of these national centers perform focused basic and translational research as well as clinical trials.  Until 2010, he was the Director of the Division of Neuropathology, which under his leadership attracted over $35 million in research funding, and more than doubled its clinical service duties as it trained over two hundred and fifty students, residents, fellows, and visiting faculty. Dr. Montine is ranked among the top recipients of NIH funding among all Department of Pathology faculty in the United States and has been awarded the coveted “Teacher of the Quarter” award from the second year students in the School of Medicine.  He is the 2013 President-elect of the American Association of Neuropathologists, author (with Dr. Brad Hyman) of the recent NIA-AA guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and the scientific chair of the 2013 NINDS National Alzheimer Prevention Act activities.

The focus of the Montine Laboratory is on the structural and molecular bases of cognitive impairment. Our goal is to define key pathogenic steps and thereby identify new therapeutic targets. The Montine Laboratory addresses these prevalent, unmet medical needs through a combination of epidemiologic neuropathology, biomarker development and application in clinical trials, and experimental studies that test hypotheses concerning specific mechanisms of neuron injury and approaches to neuroprotection in brain.