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Rock Star of Pathology at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting: Dr. Richard Mac DeMay Shares His Keen Insights on Cytopathology

Monday, June 18, 2012

A rock star among pathologists, Richard Mac DeMay, MD, FASCP, will present “The Building Blocks of Cytopathology” on Oct. 31 at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting in Boston. His course will give a whirlwind tour of fine needle aspiration biopsy cytodiagnosis intended for pathology residents and pathologists who will be taking recertification examinations.

“I’m fascinated by colors, shapes, and textures, which are the basics of art, as well as cytopathology, so cytopathology was a perfect fit.”
—Richard M. DeMay, MD, FASCP

Dr. DeMay was predestined to be a pathologist. As a child, he enjoyed visiting the pathology laboratory while his father, a family physician, saw patients in the hospital. Becoming a doctor was almost inevitable; Dr. DeMay is the fourth-generation of physicians in his family and his uncle was a pathologist.

Among the pathology subspecialties, cytopathology attracted him because it combines his interests in art and science. “I’m a very visual person,” said Dr. DeMay, Professor of Pathology and Medical Director of Cytopathology in the Pathology Department at the University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago. “I’m fascinated by colors, shapes, and textures, which are the basics of art, as well as cytopathology, so cytopathology was a perfect fit.”

His “mother” and “father” in cytopathology were Denise DeFrias, MD, at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, where he attended medical school, and William “Jack” Frable, MD, at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, Va., where he did his fellowship in cytopathology. Inspired by two other giants in cytopathology, Elizabeth McGrew, MD, and George L. Wied, MD, both students of George Papanicolaou, Dr. DeMay became an expert in cervical cytology. He also applies diagnosis to many other diseases, including other forms of cancer, as well as various infections and infiltrations.

“I like cytopathology because it is a very general subspecialty since we analyze cells from all over the body.” Additionally, cytopathology allows direct interaction with patients when performing fine needle aspiration biopsies, as well as teamwork with radiologists and clinical colleagues when caring for patients.

Drawing upon his expertise as a cytopathologist, Dr. DeMay wrote the best-selling The Art and Science of Cytopathology, now in its second edition, as well as The Pap Test and Practical Principles of Cytopathology, all published by ASCP Press. He also likes to travel and has lectured extensively on cytopathology—both nationally and internationally.

Outside of his busy life as a cytopathologist, Dr. DeMay has earned a certificate in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and set up an art studio in his home. As much an artist as an art historian, he has studied artworks firsthand at galleries and museums around the world.

His favorite book is Ulysses by James Joyce, which he has read multiple times, starting as a teenager. “The more I dig into the book, the more I find,” Dr. DeMay said. “Every word has multiple layers of meaning, which intrigues me.”

Distinctive words, artwork, and medical images fire his imagination. In turn, Dr. DeMay inspires the pathology residents and fellows he teaches at the University of Chicago and will teach at the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting.