Society for Pediatric Pathology
May 6, 2020

SPP Spring 2020 Newsletter

Click here for a PDF of this newsletter.

In this Edition....

From the Editor’s Desk
President's Letter
Committee Reports

Historical Moments
Calendar of Events


Greetings to all fellow members of the Society for Pediatric Pathology! As your new Newsletter Editor, I am now ensconced in my home in Little Rock, waiting out the pandemic and pondering all the great things that are going on in our Society.

To prepare for this new position, I am reviewing past editions of our SPP Newsletter, going back to my oldest one from Summer 1995. Editors since that time have included John Fisher, Edwina Popek, Art Weinburg, Margaret Collins, and Rob Ruiz. After 2004, my collection becomes sketchy, and it appears that at some point newsletter editorship became a province of the SPP President and the SPP Newsletter morphed into the President’s Newsletter. On-line newsletters that are access-ready on our website begin in 2014 with Raj Kapur and are continued up to our current Past-President Charles Timmons. It appears that I am reviving the previous SPP tradition, and any missing issues that could be shared with me would be most welcome.

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In spite of the fear of infection, the SPP held a very successful meeting in Los Angeles from February 27 to March 1, 2020. Highlights of the meeting included changes from previous traditions including: consecutive pediatric and perinatal platforms rather than competing ones, use of a 2-minute platform to “advertise” posters rather than a mini-presentation, and an open bar and finger food replacing the formal SPP dinner.

From L to R: Mike Caplan (SPP, Keyboard), Craig Zuppan (SPP, bass), Jeff Olson (local freelance jazz drummer), Chuck Alvarez (freelance guitarist), and Paul Dickman (SPP, saxophone).

Although there were a few growing pains, positive signs included the ability to hear both surgical pathology and perinatal pathology topics, and to talk with poster presenters who stood by their work during the subsequent session. Unfortunately, President Gino Somer’s Presidential Address lacked the attention it deserved as a result of the new format, but I look forward to seeing how the Education Committee incorporates this treasured part of our shared memory into the program. Another positive change was a Business Meeting Lunch with FREE FOOD, so it was much better attended than in times past.


I hope that all of you are able to keep well during the present pandemic, and I look forward to seeing you again. Be safe!

David Parham
Newsletter Editor



“No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.”
Albert Camus, The Plague

Dear SPP family,

The unprecedented changes due to COVID-19 are hard to put into words. While the SPP Spring Meeting in Los Angeles took place a few weeks ago, in looking back it seems like a different time altogether. When was the last time we had more than 5 people in a room? When was the last time we shared food and drink with friends? When was the last time you took your children to school? Certainly too long ago. I’m thankful for the opportunity to see many of you back then, and I’m very much looking forward to working with you as your SPP President this year.

I wanted to thank everyone for their efforts in making the Spring Meeting so successful. Although the formal evaluations are still being compiled, there were many highlights. I’m always impressed to see the number of trainee presentations, and this meeting was no exception. Trainees are our future, and our future seems very bright. The “poster blitz” was a big hit and, by all accounts, one of the highlights of the weekend. The educational offerings were excellent, and the Farber-Landing lecture confirmed Dr. Parham’s central role in improving the care of children with rhabdomyosarcoma, and affirms his place as one of the legends of pediatric pathology.

I’d like to thank all of the SPP committee members and chairs for their tireless efforts to improve our Society. Just a few of the initiatives underway include: a new and improved website; a number of membership initiatives to improve recruitment and retention; efforts to increase our virtual presence and the accessibility of educational offerings; collaborations with other societies to increase the profile of the SPP; changes in the format of our scientific sessions to better meet our members’ needs; and of course, this newsletter! Our committees are the “engine room” of the SPP, driving us toward a bigger and better future.

We are looking forward to the upcoming SPP Fall Meeting in Portland, Oregon, in October. The local organizers, Jessica Davis and Terry Morgan, are doing an incredible amount of work behind the scenes. The education program looks excellent, and the social program looks exceptional. I can’t wait to see everything that Portland has to offer. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention the uncertainty regarding the long-term effect of COVID-19, and the Executive and Planning Committees are looking very closely into contingency plans should the need arise. Rest assured – one way or another, we will see each other next fall!

As we live our lives in these uncertain times, I wanted to say to all of you how proud I am to be President of the SPP. The Society is only as good as its members, and our members (i.e. all of us) are fighting a once-in-a-generation medical crisis with commitment and professionalism. Having spoken to many of you recently, I know that fight can take many different forms –distributing PPE, testing patients and employees, working from home, navigating uncertainty, keeping up with policies, dealing with the possibility of redeployment, and advocating for the needs of children. One thing is certain – we are all committed to providing first rate pediatric laboratory care during the pandemic, and for that, we should all be very proud.

Stay safe, stay well and see you all in October!


Gino Somers
SPP President




At the Spring Meeting, the Education Committee approved the program for the Fall 2020 Meeting organized by Dr. Jessica Davis and Dr. Terry Morgan of OHSU in Portland, Oregon. The program will feature a Fanconi anemia symposium that will highlight the institution’s experience and will feature experts in the field. The perinatal symposium will be “New insights into the early detection of long-term health consequences of pregnancy”.

There are exciting offerings for the Spring 2021 Meeting, too, which will feature the symposium “Molecular testing for pediatric sarcomas: practical strategies and workflows in the era of personalized medicine and an updated WHO classification”, thanks to symposium directors Rita Alaggio, Matthew Himenez and Lea Surrey. Also, two new workshops will start in the Spring: “Handling the postoperative heart: a systematic approach to dissection and evaluation of autopsy and explanted heart specimens”, presented by Katte Carreon and Steven Sanders, and “Germ cell tumors in pediatric patients: a systematic overview with emphasis on differing pathogenesis and clinical implications than those in adults” presented by Florette K. Gray-Hazard, Chia-Sui Kao and Mary Davis.

The Education Committee comprises three subcommittees: Slide Survey, Workshop and Symposium Subcommittees, each an important component of SPP educational activities. The Slide Survey Program is an online activity with continued excellence and is led by Jennifer Picarsic, with Brad Siegele serving as the Chair-elect (2021). The Slide Survey Program will decrease the number of cases from six to five per release, but it will involve more of our society’s experts, who will edit cases in their respective areas of expertise and increase the value of the published cases.

The Education Committee thanks Alison Huppmann for serving as Chair of the Symposium Subcommittee until this past Spring meeting; she has been highly instrumental in ensuring high quality of our offerings for the past four years. Jiancong Liang has assumed this role for the next four years, ensuring the continued excellence of Subcommittee.

The membership’s interest in becoming involved in the Education Committee continues to be inspiring: we have a total of 39 members, of which 6 are junior.

It feels slightly strange to present plans for future meetings at a time when we do not know how the world will resume familiar activities; our SPP Education Committee, with support from the SPP leadership and staff, is committed to adapt the format if needed, and to offer continuity in education for our society members in a time when the world is navigating the COVID19 pandemic.

Sanda Alexandrescu, Chair
Education Committee



The SPP Membership Committee was relaunched at the 2019 SPP Spring Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. Since reforming under Dr. Erin Rudzinski as the Membership Chair, the committee has been focusing on three primary areas of engaging SPP members:

  1. Recruitment of new SPP members (especially Medical Students, Residents, and Fellows)
  2. Retention of existing SPP members (especially Fellows who are entering Practice)
  3. Recognition of long-term SPP members

Currently, the Membership Committee is working on updating the SPP Member Needs Survey, which will be disseminated over the summer. We hope to use the Member Needs Survey data to identify gaps in services and utilize the data to provide new member benefits. In order to maximize participation, anyone who completes the SPP Member Needs Survey will automatically be entered into a raffle for a complimentary registration for the SPP 2020 Fall Meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Upon completion of the Member Needs Survey, the committee hopes to use the data to identify ways to improve member benefits and raise the profile of SPP within the pathology community. We look forward to receiving your feedback!

Jordan Burghardt, SPP Administrator
Erin Rudzinski, Chair
SPP Membership Committee



As of the Spring Meeting, the SPP had a stable financial position. At last report prior to recent market slide, the investment fund showed a balanced conservative position of 60% stocks and 35% bonds/5% cash and had produced enough income to make up for typical yearly spending deficits. The Finance Committee endeavors to have the SPP at least break even every year, and profitability of the meetings was a focus at our last session. Income from publications appears stable, and the Slide Survey makes money but may have a downward trend that bears watching.

Other major activities have included reorganizing the investment account to segregate the Awards Fund, as recommended by our auditors. This process revealed that the Awards Fund is larger than we’d thought. Also, Kellen is in the process of adopting a new finance management software product that will help manage expenses more effectively. Finally, the Chair position is transitioning to Jennifer Black, effective March 1, 2020. We thank Sarah Johnson-Welch for her service as the past chair.

Sarah Johnson-Welch, Past-Chair
Jennifer Black, Chair
Finance Committee


Needless to say, the recent market downturn caused by COVID-19 has affected all portfolios, including that of the SPP. The Finance Committee is working to address the challenges posed by this development.



The following awards were given at the spring 2020 meeting:

  1. Gordon F Vawter Pathologist-in-Training Award:
    Jie-Fu Chen, MD; Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
    Coauthors: Drs. Mattis, Gonzalez, Rais, Dehner, Pfeifer, and He
    Title: PD-L1/PD-1 Expression in Wilms Tumor: Analysis of 52 cases
  2. Harry B Neustein Memorial Award:
    Claudia Salgado, MD, PhD; UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Coauthors: Drs. Alaggio, Locatelli, Camassei, Bisogno, and Miele
    Title: DNA methylation and copy number profiling in pediatric BCOR-ITD

  3. Benirschke Perinatal Pathology Award:
    Crystal Bockoven, MD; NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, Illinois
    Coauthors: Drs. Victor, Meyer, Petrovic, and Ernst
    Title: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Retrospective Analysis of in Vivo MRI and Placental Pathology

  4. Lotte Strauss Prize:
    Jessica Davis, MD; Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR
    Coauthors: Drs. Lockwood, Stohr, Boecking, Al-Ibraheemi, DuBois, Vargas, Black, Cox, Luquette, Turpin, Szabo, Laetsch, Albert, Parham, Hawkins, and Rudzinski
    Title: Expanding the Spectrum of Pediatric NTRK-rearranged Mesenchymal Tumor. Am J Surg Pathol. 2019; 43(4): 435-445

  5. Enid Gilbert Barness Prize:
    Csaba Galambos, MD, PhD. Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO.
    Coauthors: Drs. Mullen, Shieh, Schwerk, Kielt, Ullmann, Boldrini, Stucin-Gantar, Haass, Bansal, Agrawal, Johnson, Peca, Surace, Cutrera, Pauciulo, Nichols, Griese, Ivy, Abman, Austin, and Danhaive
    Title: Phenotype characterisation of TBX4 mutation and deletion carriers with neonatal and paediatric pulmonary hypertension. Eur Respir J. 2019 Aug 22;54(2): pii: 1801965

Upcoming awards have the following deadlines:

Karen Chisholm, Chair
Awards Committee



  • 2022 Fall Perinatal Symposium: The needs assessment was completed by the larger Perinatal Business meeting and "The Unexplained Fetal Death" was the topic of choice for the symposium. As soon as the location is determined, we will start looking for a director and local speakers for the Symposium.
  • Placenta Accreta Spectrum Disorders: The publication of the SPP task force recommendations for diagnosis and reporting is in preparation.
  • Perinatal Group webpage upgrade: We are asking the members of the Society to review the Perinatal Group webpage and submit suggestions for improvement. The suggestions may be submitted directly to me.
  • SPP Los Angeles meeting: The first Benirschke award was given at the meeting. Moving forward, this award will be given twice a year.
  • News on NIH restrictions on research with fetal tissue: Dr. Drucilla Roberts put together a summary on this topic. The text was disseminated to the SPP members via Twitter and a link can be found in the Perinatal Section of the SPP website.
  • 2020 Perinatal Pathology Spring Course in Chicago: Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on travel and meetings, the course was postponed. The new date/time for the course is April 9-11, 2021, in Chicago, IL.

Eumenia Castro, New Chair



In summer 1995, President Joel Haas reviewed the history of the SPP, beginning with the debate over the need for board certification in the early 1980s, and continuing through to the initiation of Young Investigator awards in 1990. Editor John Fisher pleaded for better education of next of kin concerning the value of the autopsy. Several members expressed interest in a program dealing with the effect of managed care on the practice of pediatric pathology. The Editor published letters received from Bruce Beckwith, one lamenting an apparent lack of interest in an affiliation with the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the other requesting that SPP announcements also be published in the PPS newsletter. Kevin Bove wrote an invited commentary on a CAP/ASCP conference on restructuring the autopsy in the managed care era. Emphasized points included a plea for better communication with clinicians prior to starting the procedure, a needed focus on reasons for success and non-success of clinical efforts, and two directives: Make the autopsy relevant and meaningful, and reinvent the autopsy or it will not succeed.

From the SPP Newsletter, Summer 1995



  • First round of Slide Survey cases released – May 4, 2020
  • Member Needs Survey to be disseminated – June 2020
  • Fall 2020 ABSTRACT CENTER OPENS – June 2020
  • Registration for Fall SPP Meeting opens – July 2020
  • Second round of SSO cases – End of July 2020
  • SPP Fall Meeting, Portland OR – October 21-25, 2020
  • Third round of SSO cases? – End of October 2020
  • Spring 2021 ABSTRACT CENTER OPENS – November 2020
  • SPP Spring Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland March 12-14, 2021
  • Rescheduled Perinatal Pathology course, Chicago IL – April 9-11, 2021

Have you or your practice been directly impacted by COVID-19? We would love to hear from you about your experience to share in a future newsletter. Please contact Jordan Burghardt, SPP Administrator, if you'd like to share!

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