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Mary Leader is a graduate of RCSI and was appointed
Professor of Pathology and Chairperson of the Department
of Pathology in 1986. She practises as a histopathologist
in Beaumont Hospital and is responsible for teaching and
research in the Department of Pathology in RCSI.
Professor Leader is internationally renowned in her field. She
has held key roles in a range of international committees,
including the British Division of the International Academy
of Pathology, The Pathological Society of Great Britain and
Ireland and on a variety of editorial boards. She has recently
completed her term as President of the Irish Society of
Surgical Pathology and has just been nominated as President
of the British Division of the International Academy of
Pathology, an organisation that includes British, Irish, Belgian
and Dutch Histopathologists.
Given her long tenure as professor of Pathology in RCSI
she recognises the key role that pathology plays in clinical
medicine. She sees lectures as the backbone of the
pathology education programme and believes that student
attendance at lectures is of vital importance. She believes in
a multi-modality approach to pathology teaching including
teaching through lectures and tutorials and e-learning
modalities. She introduced clinico-pathological conference
type teaching 20 years ago to pathology teaching to
develop the students' skills in clinical problem solving.
She emphasises the constant need for review and
revalidation of the teaching and assessment of the pathology
programme. According to Professor Leader, pathology is
very fortunate to have experienced clinicians delivering
all of the pathology lectures, bringing their expertise and
experience to the benefit of the student. She believes it is
the sheer enthusiasm of the teaching staff for education and
research, coupled with their openness to feedback from
students and colleagues, that makes Pathology interesting
for the students and that drives curriculum development
forward. There have been very significant advances in
molecular medicine in recent times which now provide us
with an understanding of the pathogenesis and behaviour
and newer treatments of many diseases. The students must
be familiar with these developments in molecular pathology
and in the role of the Laboratory in the assessment of
patients for newer targeted therapy.
While acknowledging the challenges provided by large
student numbers, Professor Leader believes RCSI must
continue to emphasise in their teaching programme the
importance of eliciting and interpreting clinical skills to
ensure that doctors who graduate from the RCSI maintain
the excellent reputation of the College for clinical
The Pathology Research Department has a very active
research laboratory with a particular interest in tumour
pathology and molecular pathology. The laboratory, in
conjunction with the Beaumont Histopathology laboratory,
plays a key role in the evaluation of molecular markers that
guide the treatment of patients with a variety of different
cancers including breast, lung and colonic carcinoma and
malignant melanoma.
Professor Leader also pays particular tribute to RCSI for
their support of their students emotionally as well as
academically and the excellent mentoring and counselling
facilities that are available for the students.
As a member of the Irish Medical Council, she believes
medical students should be made aware of the importance
of good communication with their patients, as well as
professionalism, empathy, honesty and humility in the
practise of medicine.
Prioritising pathology
the education of problem solvers and innovators
A profile of Professor Mary Leader, the internationally renowned pathologist
responsible for teaching and research in the Department of Pathology in RCSI