16 March 2021: Meet the Editor – Jennifer A. Bennett, M.D.

Please introduce yourself.

I am a gynecologic pathologist at the University of Chicago. I spent most of my life in warm, sunny Florida before moving north to Hershey, PA for residency. Thereafter, I moved further north to Boston, MA where I was the Robert E. Scully Fellow in Gynecologic Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. I stayed in the greater Boston area for a few years as a general surgical pathologist at Lahey Hospital before moving west to Chicago to focus specifically on gynecologic pathology and experience even colder weather!

Why did you become a pathologist?

I was actively involved in research as an undergraduate student at the University of Florida where I spent my time preparing and examining histologic sections of mouse and rat brains. I really enjoyed looking through the microscope at the tissue sections and seeing which parts of the brain were positive for various markers. With this experience, as well as my inkling to be more “behind the scenes”, I entered medical school thinking about pursuing a career in either pathology or radiology, but after my first radiology lecture, the answer became crystal clear!

What do you like most about being a pathologist?

Every day is different and every day is a new puzzle (or puzzles) to solve.

What is special about your subspecialty?

Gynecologic pathology was slower to jump on the “molecular bandwagon” compared to some other subspecialties (like hemepath and soft tissue pathology). Since this integration really started to transpire during my fellowship, I was able to both learn the material as it was being recognized and also actively participate in research exploring this association.

How does your typical day go?

If I’m on service, I typically sign-out with the fellow and then the resident, take a quick break for lunch/email catch-up, followed by another sign-out session with the resident and then the fellow. Afterwards or interspersed between sign-outs, I try to work on various research projects, prepare lectures, etc.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had at work?

I think my most recent memorable experience was when I had a hysterectomy from a patient in her 30s and saw staghorn vessels in the first slide of the leiomyoma that I reviewed. Looking on higher-power I saw all the classic features one would expect in a fumarate hydratase-deficient (FH-d) leiomyoma. As the patient was young and had multiple large bulky fibroids, I knew she had a much higher risk of having a germline FH mutation, and hence, hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma syndrome (HLRCC). I then contacted the surgeon, informed her about both the disease and the specific pathologic features, and the patient was sent for genetic counseling for further evaluation. Being able to have such a direct role in this patient’s management was a very rewarding and memorable experience for me.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t doing this?

Traveling and hiking around the world, but for now, I must save those adventures for vacation!

Could you say a few words about your association with PathologyOutlines?

I was invited to write on uterine PEComas shortly after I published the largest series on these tumors, which also coincided with the start of my academic career at the University of Chicago. Shortly afterward, I was invited to be an editor and managed several of the gyn path chapters. About a year later I was invited to be the deputy editor-in-chief of gyn path and now perform the initial review on all gyn path topics, select topics for pathologists to write, and update sections myself when I have the time. As I worked in the non-academic setting for several years, I realized just how important it is to have reliable, easily accessible resources online as your hospital library might not have access to all major pathology journals. Thus, I am trying to help keep the gyn path chapters on PathologyOutlines.com as thorough and up to date as possible so everyone can have access to this information.

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