Heart Institute Pathologist Takes Leading International Role

April 2011

Dr. John Veinot of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute has been elected President of the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology, an international association that brings together professionals from around the world. This latest leadership role is in addition to Dr. Veinot’s other positions that include Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for not only the Heart Institute but for The Ottawa Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, as well Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Ottawa and the Medical Head of Pathology for EORLA (Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association).

Still, taking on the Society presidency was, in his words, a “no-brainer.” “Cardiac pathology is what I do—it’s my passion,” he said.

Dr. Veinot has two goals for his two-year term: to develop a mechanism for educating the next generation of cardiovascular pathologists and to set pathology standards and criteria for the diagnosis of various heart diseases.

Dr. John Veinot, MD, FRCPC
Dr. John Veinot, MD, FRCPC

“Cardiac pathology is what I do—it’s my passion.”

  • Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Ottawa

The first goal is a matter of practicality. As he noted in a recent address to the Society, “We need growth. We, like many areas of pathology, suffer with a visibility issue and, perhaps, perceived relevance.” Cardiac pathologists generally work behind the scenes providing diagnoses that allow surgeons and cardiologists to treat the patient appropriately. The role of pathology has been challenged with improved diagnostic imaging and the development of blood markers to detect diseases. It is important that these technologies be examined critically and compared to a gold standard, which is often pathology. Pathologists are also important in providing feedback on the accuracy of clinical diagnosis and in ensuring patient safety, currently an area of focus in the profession.

As for the second goal, “If cardiac pathologists can’t set standards and criteria for pathology diagnosis, then who will do it?” he asked.

He has been working with pathologists in Europe and the United States and hopes to bring Asian countries to the table. A consensus group has already developed papers on educational and training requirements for cardiovascular pathology, endomyocardial biopsy utilization, and standards and procedures for cardiovascular surgical pathology grossing. These standards will help pathologists outside the cardiovascular specialty with diagnostic criteria, aiding in patient care and the optimization of samples that may need to be sent to a cardiovascular pathologist for consultation.

The task is challenging, as every country is different in how it addresses cardiovascular pathology, the medico-legal requirements, ethical issues, and the legislation involved. Dr. Veinot indicated that his job is to try to find evidence-based consensus. “There are only a few people in the world who do what I do,” he said. “We’re a small group and we love what we do.”

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