February 15, 2008

Harvard’s Laposata named Pathology Services chief

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Michael Laposata, M.D., Ph.D.

Harvard’s Laposata named Pathology Services chief

Michael Laposata, M.D., Ph.D., has joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center as executive vice chair and director of the Division of Laboratory Medicine for the Department of Pathology. He will also serve as medical director of Clinical Laboratories and chief of Pathology Services at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Laposata previously served as professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. He is credited with establishing the Division of Laboratory Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, a program that rose to national prominence under his leadership.

“Dr. Laposata's recruitment is a phenomenal accomplishment for our department and institution. His record speaks for itself,” said Samuel Santoro, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pathology at VUMC.

Laposata earned his medical and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and completed postdoctoral training and residency in laboratory medicine at Washington University and Barnes Hospital. He held a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania before being recruited to Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Laposata's clinical expertise is in the field of blood coagulation, with special expertise in hypercoagulable states.

Boston Magazine included him in its annual list of Best Doctors for his clinical expertise with coagulation disorders. His research focuses on understanding the basis of fatty acid alterations in cystic fibrosis with the ultimate goal of identifying fatty acid replacement therapies.

“He is an established 'triple threat,'” Santoro said. “He has succeeded at the highest levels in each of the three domains: the chemistry and biology of fatty acids, clinical and laboratory hemostasis and thrombosis, and the practice and teaching of laboratory medicine. He sets a high standard and is an inspired and energetic leader.”

The face of clinical laboratory medicine is rapidly changing. With the advent of genetic testing, the number of available laboratory tests has greatly increased, complicating the ordering of appropriate lab tests. Laposata hopes to develop programs to help streamline the ordering of laboratory tests for clinicians.

“It was not long ago that the lab test menu was small, and it was easy to select among the available tests for the evaluation of a patient,” Laposata said. “Now that the menu of available assays is in the thousands, important problems for clinicians have arisen.”

Selecting the tests that will provide a thorough diagnostic evaluation — without ordering unnecessary ones — is one major challenge. Also, as more tests are available, there is a need for an expert-driven, patient-specific interpretation of test results.

Laposata plans to improve this process by grouping lab tests according to patient condition so that clinicians can order all of the necessary and appropriate tests for that condition, as well as by providing patient-specific interpretation of these lab results without the need for clinicians to specifically request it.