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The Division of Anatomic Pathology (AP) provides tissue-based diagnostic services to both physicians and patients. Additionally, all its faculty members are involved in either basic or translational research, much of which is applied to the development of new diagnostic tests or validation of existing tests and diagnostic criteria. AP is organized into three major sections:

  • Cytopathology
  • Medical (autopsy) pathology
  • Surgical pathology

Services include the following:


In the section of cytopathology, seven double board certified faculty members and approximately 30 other personnel provide diagnoses based on cell specimens, including exfoliated cells from surfaces such as cervical cytology, cells from various body cavities and effusions, and fine needle aspiration (FNA) specimens. All pathologists and cytotechnologists at work here are tested annually and certified for proficiency by an agency deemed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Medical Pathology

The approximately 250 autopsies that Medical Pathology performs annually are a critical component of the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s outcomes-based practice. Even as the discipline of autopsy pathology has declined nationwide, it remains essential at major academic centers like Penn for one fundamental reason. It continues to reveal clinically unsuspected findings that not only may have relevance to families of deceased patients in the moment, but will impact on the care of comparable patients in the future.

Electron Microscopy

Diagnostic electron microscopy (EM) services offered include TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy) for the ultrastructural interpretation of medical renal biopsies, lung biopsies, GI biopsies and tissue from other neoplastic conditions. EDAX (Energy Dispersal Analysis) for elemental analysis, including environmental pathology studies.

Surgical Pathology

The Section of Surgical Pathology is the largest component of Anatomic Pathology, with some 19 faculty complemented by close to 90 other personnel. This latter number includes experienced administrative support staff, and highly trained, highly experienced pathologist’s assistants and histotechnologists who provide specialized support for tissue processing, as well as specialists in immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. The section receives approximately 36,000 specimens per year on which it provides tissue-based diagnoses, often with extensive additional information related to prognosis or treatment options.


The immunohistochemistry (IHC) lab is a comprehensive lab that employs state-of-the-art automation and technology to provide outstanding IHC staining for hundreds of targets in human tissue. The IHC lab also performs FISH assays for prognosis and diagnosis of solid tumors and assessment of breast cancer markers (both IHC and FISH) for patient care. 

Given the IHC lab's technical and professional expertise, it is well equipped to develop and apply new tests for clinical trials. The lab offers frequent consultations with various technical and regulatory issues for outside laboratories and serve as a reference lab for various tests for the hospitals in the region.

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Anatomic Pathology Team

Meet the team of experts who specialize in anatomic pathology.

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