Member Spotlight: Karen Weck

What is your name?
Karen E. Weck, MD

What is your professional title?
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Professor of Genetics, Director of Molecular Genetics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

How did you decide to enter the field/What (or who) brought you into the field?
Jeff Kant introduced me to Molecular Pathology and to AMP ~20 years ago, although I had already been involved with development of clinical PCR assays for detection of EBV. I was struggling with the decision to continue basic molecular virology research or practice clinical virology/microbiology when I discovered through Jeff that I could specialize in molecular diagnostics and join the burgeoning field of molecular pathology. This combined the best of both worlds for me and I have never looked back. 

What do you do? How would you describe your role?
As President of AMP, I view my role as representing the membership in advocacy efforts and keeping AMP the leading organization in molecular testing.  In my daily practice, I direct and oversee an academic molecular laboratory that develops, validates and performs molecular testing for inherited diseases and oncology. I love doing this and also love teaching and interacting with the fellows in our training programs.  I am also involved in several exome/genome sequencing research projects and with a new UNC Program for Precision Medicine in Healthcare.  

How does your work help patients?
Diagnosis/ Prognosis/ Prediction of drug response/ Advocacy for better access to and reimbursement for molecular testing/ Development and critical evaluation of better testing.

What degree(s) and/or training did you receive to achieve your position?
MD (Duke School of Medicine)> NIH research internship> Laboratory Medicine/Clinical Pathology Residency (Washington University in St Louis) > postdoctoral Research fellowship (Molecular Virology)> Assistant Director of Molecular Diagnostics (Pittsburgh/UPMC)

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
Managing people. 

What is the best part of your work as you see it? (most interesting, fun…)
Being able to see amazing advances in technology and genomic knowledge and help them have an impact on diagnostics and patient care. 

What AMP resources/courses have helped you advance your career?
So many! Just being involved in AMP has done so much to define and advance my career. 

In your opinion, what are the most valuable aspects of AMP membership?
I would have to say that the most valuable aspect of AMP membership is the interaction with like-minded colleagues and opportunities for collaboration – many of the wonderful people I have met through AMP have become my dear friends.   


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