Lymphoma affects over 80,000 people in the United States every year. Understanding this complex and heterogeneous disease has been challenging for researchers around the world.
The molecular basis of hematologic disease has been understood for decades. However, only recently has the molecular mechanisms been described for lymphomas. At the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the combination of state-of-the-art molecular testing and traditional histomorphology allows us to further examine the causative and prognostic factors that may help guide therapy and management for patients diagnosed with this disease.
The Department works with colleagues in Hematology/Oncology as well as partners from around the city to develop powerful studies in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Evaluation of clinical, histopathologic, and molecular factors have allowed us to better understand the determinants of more aggressive disease, particularly in patients who may have more indolent disease at the outset, but then develop transformation to high-grade tumors. With large numbers of cases, more meaningful and significant results are possible, allowing a better understanding of what drives the disease process.
In addition to these studies, the Hematopathology section works closely with Molecular Pathology. Recently, a customized next-generation sequencing (NGS) panel was developed to target alterations in genes specific to B- and T-cell lymphomas. This will provide a powerful tool not only for clinical use, but also for further multidisciplinary research.
Infectious Disease & Microbiology
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago, NorthShore was the first hospital laboratory in the state to have SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing available. This allowed us to quickly diagnose patients so they could receive the best care possible while also protecting patients and staff from spreading infection within the hospital. Within a short period of time, highly sensitive and specific PCR testing was available at immediate care locations and physician offices throughout NorthShore University HealthSystem, helping people stay safe as they attended school and work, traveled, and gathered with family and friends.
NorthShore has a legacy of cutting edge infectious disease testing. In 2005, NorthShore became the first hospital system in the nation to universally screen patients for MRSA, a highly pathogenic bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics. MRSA poses a threat to patients by putting them at higher risk for blood stream infections, pneumonia, and surgical site infections. Testing high-risk patients before admission proved to be effective, resulting in a 30% lower infection rate. Today, NorthShore continues to protect hospital patients from infection through MRSA screening. Research conducted as part of our MRSA program has helped minimize the magnitude of MRSA infection for our patients and serves as a model for other hospital systems across the country.
In 2014, we were the first laboratory in the United States to implement Total Laboratory Automation. This system helps pathogens to grow faster and allows us to rapidly report culture results to clinicians and patients. With this knowledge, clinicians can quickly treat their patients for infection using the most effective antimicrobials.
Additional areas of infectious disease research in the department include:
- Implementing and optimizing novel laboratory equipment to provide faster results to our clinicians and patients.
- Partnering with our Antimicrobial Stewardship program to optimize antibiotic use and minimize the development of microbial resistance.
- Implementation of novel molecular tests for rapid detection of pathogens.
- Evaluating and validating new molecular diagnostic tests for the Food and Drug Administration that are developed by manufacturers for clinical diagnostic testing.