Dear Colleagues, Alumni, and Friends of the VCU Pathology Department,

I am delighted to reach out to you as Program Director for the VCU Pathology Training Program.  It has been a year of constant change – at least in terms of the Residency Program – building on a legacy of excellence in residency training established by Dr. Wilkinson and his predecessors. It has also been, to understate matters, an extraordinary year of developments that have offered ample opportunity for our trainees to exhibit their resiliency and grit. It has also offered the opportunity to our Pathology GME administrative team, Dr. Pamela Adams-Lewis and Mrs. Courtney Ingram, to continue to be the very glue that holds it all together.

Have you seen the cranes on the skyline of downtown Richmond? Here at VCU Health, expansion continues apace, with construction underway practically everywhere around our program’s core operations in Sanger Hall, the Main Hospital, and Gateway Building.  The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s inpatient tower has begun to rise across the street from Sanger Hall, while the VCU Health Adult Outpatient Pavilion is fast materializing as a sleek new architectural feature between downtown and the Biotech Park at the prior site of the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.

Our residency program has had the good fortune to have several special Residency Program guests for Grand Rounds. This year we welcomed Dr. Jason Jarzembowski, Chief of Pediatric Pathology at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Chair of the Pathology Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group, who spoke of developments in Neuroblastoma, as well as Dr. William Harp, Executive Director of the Virginia Board of Medicine, who spoke on the topic of professionalism.

Our program will graduate an oversized class of six this year – please see our list of impressive placements for our graduates.  I wanted to highlight with particular gratitude the achievements of our outgoing Chief residents, Dr. Patrick Memari and Dr. Makinzie Mott. Their contributions to the organization of our program and especially the interview process this past fall helped make possible our matching four excellent PGY1 candidates through the NRMP match process. We have the good fortune of keeping Dr. Memari as one of our Cytology fellows for next year, while Dr. Mott will train at the University of Louisville/Kentucky Office of the Chief Medical Examiner program in Forensic Pathology.

Residents_covid_testsOn a personal note, I wanted to convey how impressed I am at the efforts our housestaff have made during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It has been a year of constantly changing plans, expectations, mandates, needs, and challenges to which our trainees have risen. I wanted to thank every resident and fellow for their special efforts – ranging from handling around the clock notification calls for critical values in viral testing results, to reassembling custom COVID-19 testing kits in Micro (see attached photo). I wanted to give a special thanks to our 2020-2021 Chief Residents, Lorraine Colón-Cartagena and Dr. Patricija Zot, who have helped organize and guide our program every step of the way. 

Finally, I wanted to thank each of you as alumni and donors to our VCU GME Fund. Your generosity has helped fund the scholarship and travel of our residents. These achievements – just see our recent publications – are undimmed by the present challenges and are a credit to our trainees and their mentors. They are also a tribute to your ongoing support of our program, for which, I am indebted to you. I remain,

Yours very thankfully,

Dr. Smith 2020

Steven Christopher Smith, MD, PhD
Director, Pathology Training Program  
Department of Pathology 
Virginia Commonwealth University 
Email:  steven.c.smith@vcuhealth.org