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Mol Diagn. 2000 Dec;5(4):287-99.

The role of the pathologist as tissue refiner and data miner: the impact of functional genomics on the modern pathology laboratory and the critical roles of pathology informatics and bioinformatics.

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Center for Pathology Informatics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA.


This article provides an overview of how functional genomics is likely to impact on the pathology laboratory and highlights how informatics and tissue banking will greatly facilitate the molecular age of medicine. Important aspects of functional genomics in the post-genome era, including the roles of laser capture microdissection, DNA- and complementary DNA-based microarrays, proteomic methods, collaborative human tissue banking, tissue microarrays, and pathobioinformatics in the modern pathology laboratory are discussed. The role of mass spectroscopy in the analysis of RNA, DNA, and protein and its impact on the clinical laboratory, particularly in cost-effectiveness and time savings, are evaluated. This article explores how laboratory information systems (LISs) and the devices that feed them information may need to be modified to adapt to greater volumes of data for the new testing modalities that require understanding sophisticated fluorescence detection methods and image processing. Emerging genomic testing methods and their impact on pathology laboratory testing, especially in the area of molecular classification of neoplasms, are examined. The role of the tissue bank in the modern pathology laboratory as an archive of control normal tissues, as well as subsamples of the spectrum of progressive neoplastic states, is discussed in light of its critical importance to the molecular classification of cancer. Establishing a database that combines structured reports in pathology LISs and construction of tissue banking information systems will provide a rich resource for pathology departments. The article discusses a hypothetical resource, such as the Shared Tumor Expression Profiler, that would provide access to well-characterized tissue-based research resources for clinicians and researchers. Last, the article emphasizes how LISs can prepare for these changes, and how training pathologists in pathology informatics and bioinformatics (pathobioinformatics) is critical to ensure pathology's overall leadership role in the post-genome era.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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