AASLD Foundation Emerging Liver Scholar Adam Booth, MD, began his mentorship with Heather Stevenson-Lerner, MD, PhD, before he even started his residency. “I approached Dr. Stevenson because I met her when I interviewed for residency. After the residency match, I emailed her about a research project, so we quickly got started. She’s in the field that I want to go into, so it was kind of a natural progression,” says Dr. Booth, who is chief pathology resident at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).
Little did Dr. Booth know that one email would lead to the creation of a lifelong professional relationship, an early and impressive publication and presenting record, an AASLD Emerging Liver Scholars award, and an upcoming liver and gastroenterology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“Dr. Stevenson-Lerner mentored me in how to write and submit papers, how to navigate things within the department and with my co-residents, and then as I applied for fellowships, what to look for in different programs and what to think about as my career kind of moves forward,” says Dr. Booth.
“I think his ambition and motivation to do this is what really helped him have so many publications by now and so quickly because he got to working on them almost immediately,” explains Dr. Stevenson-Lerner who is a hepatobiliary/transplant pathologist and assistant professor at UTMB. “That was a huge factor for him as far as getting a good project and in becoming a successful mentee.”
It’s not just Drs. Booth and Stevenson-Lerner who benefit from this mentor/mentee relationship. Patients and other members of the health care team at UTMB are also benefiting through Drs. Booth and Stevenson-Lerner’s work on the institution’s Liver Diseases Diagnostic Management Team (DMT), which offers collaborative and coordinated care from a multidisciplinary team – all focused on improving outcomes of patients with liver diseases at UTMB.
Dr. Stevenson-Lerner adapted a liver pathology conference she started at UTMB into a Liver Diseases DMT at the behest of her chairperson, Michael Laposata, MD, PhD, who initially developed the concept at Massachusetts General Hospital and Vanderbilt University to address his work in complex clinical pathology coagulation cases.
The program has become a model of multidisciplinary collaboration at UTMB and a way for pathologists to become an even more interactive part of a liver patient’s medical team. “[As a part of the DMT] you have to make decisions as a group such as ordering an additional test, interpreting challenging laboratory results or talking about treatment recommendations,” explains Dr. Stevenson-Lerner who co-leads the program with UTMB’s lead transplant hepatologist, Shehzad Merwat, MD.
The opportunity to work face-to-face with clinicians and play a more active role in patient care is something Dr. Booth has fully embraced, and he credits his mentor with creating an environment where he can flourish in doing so. “DMTs provide an ideal environment for pathologists to demonstrate their importance in patient care. Dr. Stevenson-Lerner ensures that trainees understand the entire clinical picture rather than what is just being seen under the microscope,” says Dr. Booth.
As Drs. Booth and Stevenson-Lerner continue to grow their mentor/mentee relationship, Dr. Booth looks forward to continued growth in his career. He will be a speaker at the third annual DMT Conference organized by Dr. Laposata in March. After that, he’ll finish his residency and begin preparing for his fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2020.
For details about how the liver pathology DMT works at UTMB, contact Dr. Stevenson-Lerner. AASLD Foundation will begin accepting applications for its 2019 Emerging Liver Scholars Resident Program on March 1.