Here’s what you may have missed this week in the clinical lab world. It was a busy week…

Rapid Progress in Systems Biology Predicted to Increase Multiplex Testing by Clinical Pathology Laboratories

Published: April 27 2012

Trend from reductionism to holistic biomedicine means clinical laboratories and pathologists should expect increased multiplex testing

Systems biology (SB) is a rapidly-evolving area of research that, by itself, could greatly expand the need for multiplex testing performed by clinical laboratories. But systems biology has yet to catch the full attention of either the media or Wall Street.

That may soon change. Despite the complexity of human metabolic systems, experts in systems biology are making progress in identifying the myriad of metabolic channels that collectively can be used to diagnose disease and identify appropriate therapies. These are auspicious developments for medical laboratory managers and pathologists.

Probably no single individual has done more to advance the field of systems biology than Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D. In 2000, he co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, Washington and his colleagues engaged scientists across a number of fields to study the metabolic processes of humans and other organisms.

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IBM Watson Picks Advisory Board—but No PathologistPublished: April 25 2012

Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists have an opportunity to expand the presence of laboratory medicine

IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently issued a press release announcing its new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board (WHAB). The board is comprised of healthcare leaders with a broad range of research, medical and business expertise. Unfortunately, that expertise does not include pathology or specialists in laboratory medicine.

“Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes,” said Herbert Chase, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine (in Biomedical Informatics) at Columbia University, in a recent IBM press release. “As IBM focuses its efforts on key areas including oncology, cardiology and other chronic diseases, the advisory board will be integral to helping align the business strategy to the specific needs of the industry.”

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In Recent Months, Health Officials in Alberta Disclose Diagnostic Errors by Two Pathologists and a Radiologist

Published: April 23 2012

Public awaits findings from board of inquiry empaneled by the Alberta Health System

Once more, a province in Canada is dealing with public disclosure of unacceptable rates of errors in anatomic pathology testing services. This time it is the healthcare system of Alberta. Since November, the public has learned about two separate cases of individual pathologists who were determined to have misdiagnosed cancer cases.

But pathology errors turned out to be only part of this story. Public concern in Alberta about the quality of diagnostics services was further heightened by another round of newspaper stories later in December. This time, the news was about the discovery of imaging errors made by a radiologist working in one of Alberta’s hospitals.

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