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Sanford Stass, MD, Longtime Chair of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology, to Step Down

January 03, 2024

Has Had Distinguished Academic Career with Pioneering Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Immunologic characterizations of Leukemias and Lymphomas; Dr. Paul Staats will serve as Interim Chair

Sanford A. Stass, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM), announced today that he will be stepping down from his longtime role as Chair of the two departments. He will continue as a full-time member of the faculty of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology.

Paul Staats, MD, Professor of Pathology and Assistant Director of the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory Operations, and a nationally recognized expert in cytopathology and gynecologic pathology, has been appointed Interim Chair of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology, effective February 1, 2024.

Dr. Stass started in 1994 as the Vice Chairman for Hospital Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Director of the University of Maryland Medical System's Laboratories of Pathology and served as Interim Chair of the Department of Pathology beginning in July 1998 and has served as Chair of the Department since 2003. He currently serves as Medical Director of the UMMC Laboratories of Pathology (CLIA/CAP/AABB/ASHI accredited), which provides a full range of contemporary laboratory testing services for inpatients and outpatients throughout UMMS and UMMC. The Laboratories of Pathology also provide extensive reference laboratory and specialty testing support for clinical trials, other regional hospitals, and non-hospital-based health care organizations. In addition, Dr. Stass has served since 1998 as President and Medical Director of the University of Maryland Pathology Associates, PA. In 2002, Dr. Stass was appointed as the Interim Chair of the Department of Medical & Research Technology and became Chair in 2009.

Led Large Scale COVID-19 Testing Effort

Most notably, in his role with the UM Pathology Associates Laboratories, Dr. Stass was among those leading the UMSOM's COVID testing for the State of Maryland. Analysis of the samples took place at the accredited labs, operated by the Department of Pathology and the Institute of Genome Sciences. In all, the labs processed more than 750,000 COVID tests for State of Maryland entities, including universities, nursing home facilities, urgent care locations, and correctional facilities. The large-scale effort, which necessitated the hiring of nearly 100 employees by UM Pathology Associates, P.A. (UMPA), scaled up to a point where it was processing 10,000 samples a day.

For these extraordinary efforts, the UMPA laboratory team was recognized as a University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) "Champion of Excellence."

Dr. Stass said at the time, "This was a very challenging project. We had to start this lab literally from scratch. These individuals have worked long and hard in very demanding conditions to provide an important service to the state of Maryland during this pandemic. This recognition from UMB for their excellent performance is well-deserved."

Mark T. Gladwin, MD"We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Stass for his tremendous service and leadership at UMSOM,' said Mark Gladwin, MD, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean at UM SOM, and Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore. "His research in the molecular biology of hematopoietic neoplasia and biomarkers of cancer has been recognized internationally, and his leadership during the pandemic in mobilizing the laboratory testing of COVID samples at such a large scale is truly unprecedented. I look forward to working with Interim Chair Dr. Staats in continuing to move the Department forward in positive ways."

Distinguished Academic Career

Dr. Stass has had an extensive career as a researcher in biomarker development and validation,
serving as principal investigator since 2005 on a National Institutes of Health/National Cancer
Institute-funded grant entitled, University of Maryland Baltimore Biomarker Research Laboratory. He will continue to be NIH/NCI funded until August 31, 2027 based on his current two grants as Co-Principal Investigator.

Dr. Stass is widely known for his major contributions in the molecular biology and immunologic characterizations of leukemias and lymphomas, including identification and clinical application of novel biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic monitoring. Specifically, he pioneered the identification of the abnormality in a type of leukemia called pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was the first to use a chromosomal change as a sign to detect very small amounts of the disease left after treatment in lymphoma. Also, he was one of the first to amplify a specific gene message as a marker for tiny amounts of remaining disease in chronic myeloid leukemia. He helped reveal the differences within acute leukemias, which was a significant advancement in understanding how cells commit to a certain path and for choosing the correct treatment. His current NIH/NCI grant funding is working toward the development and testing of promising new lung cancer biomarkers that use innovative technologies with application in an accredited diagnostic laboratory environment. He was also among the first to delineate the heterogeneity of acute leukemias (acute mixed lineage) important in defining markers of lineage commitment for therapy. A distinguished academic, Dr. Stass has published over 230 peer-reviewed articles.

Track Record as Pioneer as Cancer Research

Dr. Stass with Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and Colleagues

Prior to coming to the UM SOM, Dr. Stass was Pathologist and Professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and before that served on the faculty of St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was Director of the initial UMGCC Cancer Center/Program in Oncology 1997-2003. He was Pl on the first NIH/NCI grant given to the Cancer Center which was a planning grant prior to applying for a Clinical or Comprehensive Cancer Center. Also, as Director of the UMGCC Cancer Center in conjunction with David Ramsey, President, UMB, Morton Rappaport, UMMS, CEO, and Donald Wilson, UMSOM Dean Emeritus, an address was prepared which he presented to
all the members of the Maryland General Assembly and representatives of the Governor's Office. In 2000 the Maryland General Assembly created the Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF) and the Cancer Center started to receive the funding, which has been sustained for a long period of time as consistent with the initial request.

At MD Anderson, he opened one of the first CLINCAP Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory for clinical testing and was Founding Member and Vice Chair, Molecular Pathology Resource Committee, College of American Pathologists to set molecular testing guidelines for all CUA/CAP laboratories.

During his career, he has had numerous professional affiliations, including Director and Founder, Molecular Diagnostics Associates, Molecular Oncology Testing, UT MD
Anderson; Scientific Advisory Board, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Department of Defense; Chair, NIH/NCI/EDRN Collaboration. He was Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Hematopathology and Molecular Hematology; Co-Editor, Hematology Series, Founder and Editor, Diagnostic Pathology Series, Marcel Dekker Inc.; and as Member of the
Editorial Board of Molecular Pathology. He continues to serve as Chair, Post Mortem Examiners Commission, State of Maryland; and as a Member of the Editorial Board of Cancer Bio markers.

Dr. Stass received his BA Degree from UCLA and his MD Degree from the University of Missouri. He completed his residency programs in Pathology at both the National Regional Medical Center, San Diego, CA, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC.

Dr. Staats Appointed Interim Chair

Paul Staats, MD

Dr. Paul Staats has agreed to serve as Interim Chair of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology, starting February 1, 2024. Dr. Staats is a professor in the Department of Pathology. He is currently director of anatomic pathology operations, director of cytopathology, and director of the cytopathology fellowship program at University of Maryland Medical Center, and director of anatomic
pathology at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, where he previously served as laboratory director. He is dedicated to organizational efficiency and quality and has overseen several major performance improvement projects. He is past president of the Maryland Society of Pathologists. Nationally, he is past-president of the Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology, and current chair of the
Association of Pathology Chairs Fellowship Directors ad hoc Committee, where he oversees the effort to move pathology fellowship recruitment to a common timeline and/or match. He is chair of the Cyto-econference Committee and past-chair of the Cytopathology Fellowship Program Directors Committee for the American Society of Cytopathology.

Dr. Staats is a nationally recognized expert in cytopathology and gynecologic pathology, with 56 peer-reviewed publications and 12 book chapters. His research interests focus primarily on improving the diagnostic practice of pathology, particularly in cytopathology and gynecologic pathology, through refining the morphologic criteria used for categorization of malignancy, and advancing ancillary testing patterns. He has also published on laboratory quality and efficiency practices. Dr. Staats is a member of the Hormone Responsive Cancers Program within the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center Program in Oncology, and collaborates with both clinical and basic research investigators to develop innovative approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of breast cancer, gynecologic cancers, and
prostate cancer.

Dr. Staats received a BS in Chemistry from Yale University and his MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University and completed training in
anatomic and clinical pathology, cytopathology, and gynecologic pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"I am thankful for all that Dr. Stass has done over the past three decades for the Department of Pathology and the School of Medicine," said Dr. Staats. "I am excited to lead the talented people who make up this department in advancing our key missions in patient care, education, and scholarship."

Dr. Stass' Reflections

"March 1, 2024, will be my 30th year at UMSOM. There continues to be an acceleration of growth due to three exceptional Deans, Donald E. Wilson, MD, E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, and our current Dean Mark T. Gladwin. In addition, I have had the good fortune to work with many outstanding colleagues who have had the qualifications, ability and recognition to advance to senior leadership roles including Jay A Perman, MD, Chancellor USM, Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, President UMB, Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO, UMMS, and Bert W. O'Malley, MD, President and CEO UMMC, and Bill Regine, MD, FACR, FASTRO, FACRO, the Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Chair of Radiation Oncology, and President, FPI. I've also had the privilege to work with outstanding executive and senior leaders, faculty, and staff. I look forward to continuing to participate as a faculty member in the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical & Research Technology and collaborate in many of the exciting new initiatives in UMSOM, UMB, UMMC, and UMMS as these institutions continue to excel in clinical care, research, and education."


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