AACC’s Molecular Pathology Division leadership has updated the “Fundamentals of Molecular Pathology Certificate Program 2017” to reflect the field’s cutting-edge technologies and their applications. The division leaders also added modules to the course that address new developments in clinical diagnostics. 

Clinical applications in molecular pathology have grown exponentially, and the field has evolved to become a focal point of precision medicine, Helen Fernandes, PhD, DABCC, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and faculty chair of this program, told CLN Stat. 

The update to the program’s modules “not only emphasizes the new developments in molecular diagnostics—it emphasizes the evolving focus of testing in the four main subdivisions, namely: genetics, infectious diseases, oncology, and hematopathology,” said Fernandes. 

The course’s nine modules offer a very comprehensive overview of molecular pathology, from the basics to the applications in step-wise progression, Fernandes said. The modules include:

●    Introduction to Molecular Biology.

●    Basic Molecular Techniques.

●    Next-Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics.

●    Introduction to Molecular Genetics.

●    Infectious Diseases.

●    Hematopathology.

●    Molecular Signatures in Oncology: Solid tumors.

●    Validation for Molecular Assays in Oncology.

●    Lab Practices: Quality Control and Quality Assurance.

Fernandes personally worked on the molecular oncology assay validation module. “I am invested in the validation of molecular assays, as I believe that optimal performance of a clinical test is highly dependent on a thorough validation.” The module on laboratory practices specifically addresses the practical challenges of sustaining a viable molecular pathology laboratory, she added. 

Faculty members who joined Fernandes in crafting this updated course include:

●    John Greg Howe, PhD, DABCC, of Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

●    Linnea Baudhuin, PhD, of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota;

●    Christina Lockwood, PhD, of the University of Washington, Seattle.

●    Roberta Madej, PhD, Quality Control for Molecular Diagnostics, Glasgow, Scotland.

●    Deborah Payne, PhD, American Pathology Partners, Denver;

●    Barbara Zehnbauer, PhD, Emory University, Atlanta.

●    Neal Lindeman, MD, DABCC, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

●    Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

These experts are committed to advancing molecular pathology through active participation in education, as well as laboratory and administrative practices, Fernandes said. 

Lockwood, of the University of Washington, developed the next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics course. “In genomics education, I strongly advocate for incorporating both the ‘wet lab’ technical aspects of next-generation sequencing as well as the ‘dry lab’ bioinformatics analyses because the test result is intricately linked to both,” she told CLN Stat. 

This course is brand-new, as the technology just transitioned from research to clinical practice over the last few years, Lockwood said. 

Overall, the molecular pathology fundamentals program offers an accessible foundation of contemporary clinical molecular practice, Lockwood said. “The breadth of the certificate program makes it applicable for participants at all career levels and can easily accommodate participants with minimal exposure to molecular pathology, participants currently in laboratory training programs, and participants engaging in lifelong learning.” 

Register for this newly updated certificate program supported by Roche and earn 11 ACCENT continuing education credits. Participants earn a certificate of completion for successfully completing the program before the access end date.