By - October 01, 2023
Five high-achieving pathologists, pathology residents, and medical laboratory professionals under age 40 have been named to the prestigious ASCP 2023 40 Under Forty Top Five list.
ASCP’s 40 Under Forty program shines a spotlight on 40 highly accomplished pathologists, pathology residents, and laboratory professionals under age 40 who have made significant contributions to the profession and stand out as the future of laboratory leadership.
“ASCP’s 40 Under Forty program is an opportunity to recognize the next generation of laboratory leaders from around the globe,” says ASCP President Marsha Kinney, MD, MASCP. “By providing support and encouragement to these young professionals, we aim to strengthen our current medical laboratory workforce and foster greatness in the profession during this period of historic change in healthcare delivery. We are very fortunate to have such a talented group of individuals who are advancing their careers and helping shape the future of patient care.”
A total of 140 pathologists, pathology residents, and laboratory professionals applied for the 2023 ASCP 40 Under Forty program. Individuals were asked to submit a resume and write a personal statement addressing how they see themselves as a leader or becoming a leader within the profession.
The ASCP 40 Under Forty Top Five honorees were selected through a combination of public voting and committee selection. Each of the five will receive a stipend to attend the ASCP 2023 Annual Meeting in Long Beach, CA. The Top Five also receive recognition at ASCP 2023. This year’s 40 Under Forty honorees are also invited to participate in ASCP’s Career Ambassadors or Pathology Ambassadors programs. Here’s a look at this year’s Top Five honorees:
“It is truly a privilege to be recognized by ASCP—an esteemed organization with a global reach—as one of this year’s 40 Under Forty Top Five honorees,” says Kayode Balogun, PhD, MSc, DABCC, FAACC, FIBMS. He hopes the recognition will bring visibility to the care needed by pregnant women living with HIV globally and the health trajectory of HIV-exposed uninfected children, as well as lend credibility to his research, accomplishments, and goals in these areas.
Dr. Balogun serves as associate director of clinical chemistry and immunology at Montefiore Medical Center’s Department of Pathology and as assistant professor of pathology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. In addition, he engages in research focusing on maternal and infant health in the context of infectious diseases and the associated biochemical changes resulting from infection and pharmacotherapy.
His goal is to understand how these chemical changes influence disease progression and to identify disease biomarkers that can enable safe medical interventions, especially for vulnerable populations, using approved clinical laboratory standard protocols. “Women of childbearing potential are disproportionately affected by HIV, with over two million babies born to women living with HIV each year,” he explains. “Pregnant women living with HIV face a higher risk of adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight or preterm birth, and the use of HIV drugs can further increase this risk. Infants born small or preterm are at higher risk for developmental delays and long-term health problems.” His research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effects of HIV antiretrovirals on pregnancy, fetal development, and long-term health outcomes. Through this work, he hopes to contribute to improving the health and well-being of mothers and their children affected by HIV.
“Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), the drug cocktail used to treat HIV, has transformed the landscape of HIV care and prevention strategies, turning what was once a deadly disease into a chronic manageable condition,” Dr. Balogun says. “However, the use of HIV antiretroviral as treatment presents some diagnostic and health challenges that receive little attention. Being a 40 Under Forty honoree would create new connections and opportunities for collaboration and learning from esteemed colleagues with interest and expertise in HIV and related comorbidities.”
Dr. Balogun completed his clinical chemistry fellowship in the Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine and ARUP Laboratories. He received a master’s degree in biomedical science from the University of East London, in the United Kingdom, and completed doctoral training at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Dr. Balogun was a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-HIV Trials Network postdoctoral fellow at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network, Canada. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry, a fellow of the AACC Academy, and a fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science in the UK.
Meagan Chambers, MD, MS, MSc, is a neuropathology fellow at the University of Washington and a future assistant professor of pathology in autopsy at Stanford University. She received her MD from Dartmouth College, a master’s in epidemiology from Colorado State University, a master’s in health policy from Edinburgh University, in the United Kingdom, and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, where she graduated cum laude.
She is a 2022 Kinney Scholar with the Association of Pathology Chairs and a current member of its Graduate Medical Education Committee.
Her chosen area of focus is hospital-based autopsies, a field in which she is a passionate advocate for communication across healthcare teams, strengthening pathology resident education, and for seeking post-mortem tissue donation through research autopsies. Dr. Chambers founded an autopsy education website, TheAutopsyBook.com, and is the programmer behind a standard autopsy organ weight calculator (organweights.theautopsybook.com).
Dr. Chambers is a self-proclaimed “conference junkie,” having presented more than 50 posters and oral presentations at national meetings. Notable awards include a first-place poster at the American Academy of Science Annual Meeting (published in the journal, Science), the J. Bruce Beckwith Award for Resident-led Research at the University of Washington, and first place in the National Lab Week Pie Eating Competition at Dartmouth Hospital when she was a medical student.
Five years from now, Matthew Hernandez, MD, PhD, hopes to be a physician-scientist with roles both in the clinical microbiology laboratory and in translational research. His interests lie in understanding the mechanisms that drive intra- and inter-host diversification and transmission of viral pathogens. “Doing so allows for better understanding of viral evolution and carves paths for the discovery of new therapeutics/vaccines, the prevention of viral escape, and the shaping of infection prevention,” he says.
Dr. Hernandez is completing his clinical pathology residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City prior to a medical microbiology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Originally from Edinburg, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Brown University, in Rhode Island, and his MD/PhD from the Icahn School of Medicine, where he contributed to understanding HIV evolution and viral-host interactions.
Dr. Hernandez enjoys educating pre-medical and medical students and mentoring trainees, and he strives to strengthen the role of the clinical laboratory through collaboration and research. As a chief resident, he oversaw clinical pathology education for trainees, and, as part of the Physician-Scientist Track in Experimental Pathology, he engaged in impactful diagnostic and basic research that has bridged gaps between providers and the bench.
“I have utilized my skills in virology, genomics, and diagnostics to elucidate viral spread and evolution in New York City and across the globe,” Dr. Hernandez says. “When New York City became an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, I established the first in-house SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification test for the Mount Sinai Health System to meet the diagnostic need for New Yorkers two weeks after the first case. I also used clinical diagnostic and genomic data to shed light on the true arrival of SARS-CoV-2 in NYC and its evolution and spread in the city and abroad.” He has also led efforts to establish novel molecular assays in the molecular microbiology laboratory to meet the needs of SARS-CoV-2 and mpox testing to inform infection prevention efforts. This work, he says, has allowed for better understanding of viral evolution and has informed infection prevention efforts locally and abroad.
Finally, he expressed appreciation for the support of many mentors throughout his career development. His PhD mentor, Dr. Viviana Simon, helped hone his critical thinking skills and discover his passion for virology; Dr. Suzanne Arinsburg helped him carve his path in clinical pathology and provided opportunities for growth and development early in his career; Doctors Emilia (Mia) Sordillo and Alberto Paniz-Mondolfi embraced him as a trainee and fostered his role as a physician-scientist in the clinical microbiology laboratory; and lastly, his loved ones supported his enthusiasm for science and medicine.
As a 40 Under Forty Top Five honoree, Aaron Daniel Shmookler, MD, FASCP, QIACM, looks forward to continuing to positively impact trainees, colleagues, healthcare workers, patients and the community. Board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology and blood bank/transfusion medicine, Dr. Shmookler is an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine, and section director of the Blood Bank and Coagulation Laboratory at UK HealthCare.
Dr. Shmookler is passionate about clinical and laboratory teamwork and fostering the next generation of clinicians by elevating medical education. His interests include patient blood management and improving access to prehospital and hospital whole blood for life-threatening hemorrhage in rural communities. In fact, he serves on the UK College of Medicine’s Pathology Residency Education Committee and is implementing a curriculum in blood bank/transfusion medicine and coagulation for pathology residents.
Now a mentor to the next generation of pathology residents, he hopes to impart to them the same wisdom that his father, former longtime Principal Violist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Columbus, OH, shared with him. In addition to being an excellent music teacher, Dr. Shmookler says his father “taught his pupils to live up to their expectations as professional musicians. I’d like to see myself in the same light, training pathologists not so much to become specialists in blood bank/transfusion medicine or coagulation, but to become exceptional physicians.”
After completing a fellowship at The Ohio State University, he served as medical director of transfusion services and of the coagulation laboratory at West Virginia University (WVU) Health System for five years. Dr. Shmookler is a founding member of the State of West Virginia’s first whole blood program for trauma and emergency medicine patients. He also served as co-director of the preclerkship pathology courses and as associate program director of the Pathology Residency Program at WVU School of Medicine.
Dr. Shmookler is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies’ (AABB) Virtual Journal Club planning group and has been the AABB’s Annual Meeting Twitter Champion for the past four years.
Ten years ago, Rebecca Yee, PhD, D(ABMM), M(ASCP)CM, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and embarked on a journey to earn a PhD in molecular microbiology and immunology from Johns Hopkins University. She also completed a fellowship in clinical microbiology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and became a diplomate of the American Board of Medical Microbiology.
As a first-generation college student with immigrant parents, Dr. Yee never imagined going on to be recognized as a leader respected by a professional organization such as ASCP. “This 40 Under Forty Top Five recognition symbolizes that one can be successful regardless of your background, if one works hard and takes full advantage of each opportunity presented,” she says.
Dr. Yee is the chief of microbiology and director of the clinical microbiology and molecular microbiology laboratory sections at George Washington University Hospital, in Washington, DC. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where she is also the department’s equity director and a member of the Anti-Racism Coalition under the Diversity and Inclusion Committees. She currently serves on working groups and committees of the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute, the American Society for Microbiology, and the Association for Molecular Pathology.
Dr. Yee focuses on infectious diseases diagnostic development and pathology pedagogy. In her work, she has uncovered new mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, identified new therapeutics for infectious disease, and developed new diagnostic approaches to infectious disease testing. She has been the principal investigator and/or team member of multiple clinical trials or commercial evaluations for new infectious diseases diagnostics which allow her to actively help commercial companies push innovation into the market. These trials have led to diagnostic approaches that become endorsed as approved methods by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute and/or those that received FDA-clearance.
In addition, she has led teams in developing, validating, and implementing new tests to her hospital test menu especially during public health crises such as COVID-19 or for mpox. Additionally, to help standardize proper clinical practice, Dr. Yee has published and currently serves on several document working groups to draft guidelines for laboratories to use around the world. She has contributed to the Clinical Microbiology Procedures Handbook and to documents published by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute.
Five years from now, she hopes to hold the rank of associate professor of pathology, have her own team of researchers and serve as chair of various committees within national organizations. Most important, she intends to “pay it forward and contribute to training the next generation of laboratory professionals and pathologists with a focus on junior trainees and making our community more inclusive and diverse.”
ASCP communications writer