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Methodist's Ayala receives high honor in surgical pathology

Houston, TX - 3/20/2013

Alberto G. Ayala, M.D., deputy chief of pathology at The Methodist Hospital, has received the 2013 Arthur Purdy Stout Society Distinguished Pathologist Award, one of the highest honors in the world a surgical pathologist can receive.

The honor was announced at the recent annual meeting of the United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP), an organization of several pathology societies encompassing more than 10,500 members.

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"This is an extremely well deserved honor, and we are proud Alberto has been formally recognized for his contributions to the field," said James Musser, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine at The Methodist Hospital. "We are fortunate to have someone with his breadth of knowledge and experience here at Methodist, serving our patients and training the next generation of pathologists."

Surgical pathologists use microscopes and their unaided eyes to examine tissue specimens -- from small biopsies to whole organs -- to determine whether cells are behaving normally. These pathologists must be aware of subtle visual cues while also recognizing large-scale patterns. They then compare all of the visual and clinical information they have gathered to an extensive knowledge base (much of it memorized) to arrive at a correct diagnosis.

Ayala joined Methodist's Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine in 2004 after 37 years at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He received his M.D. from the University of Nuevo Leon School of Medicine (Monterrey, Mexico).

Ayala has made enormous contributions to the fields of bone and soft tissue and urologic pathology. He pioneered the use of needle biopsy for diagnosing bone tumors, which allowed limb-preserving surgery, and he helped define microscopic criteria for diagnosing and determining the stages of prostate cancer. Ayala is a respected teacher whose trainees have gone on to become leaders in genitourinary pathology.

Among the many awards and honors he's received are the Harlan J. Spjut Award from the Houston Society of Clinical Pathologists, The George T. Caldwell award from the Texas Society of Pathologists and, most recently, the Leopold Koss Medal from the International Society of Urological Pathology. Ayala is a University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center professor emeritus and a Weill Cornell Medical College professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.