What is your name?
Roberto Ruiz-Cordero, MD
What is your professional title?
Assistant Professor of Pathology
How did you decide to enter the field/What (or who) brought you into the field?
Dr. Merce Jorda, one of my first mentors, encouraged me to pursue a combined career in molecular pathology and cytopathology, after I expressed interest for a field that could help me concentrate on both branches of pathology and that aligned with the ongoing trend of making elaborate diagnoses and tests using limited tissue samples.
What do you do? How would you describe your role?
I spend my clinical time in the division of cytopathology performing palpation and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsies on patients referred to our clinic and rapid on-site assessment of image-guided biopsies, sometimes via tele-pathology, with a balanced sign out of gynecologic and non-gynecologic cytology specimens. I also sign out cases undergoing a 500-gene next-generation sequencing panel and cases of lymphoma on cytology and formalin-fixed tissue samples. My recent research interest focuses on optimizing the use of cytology specimens for molecular testing.
How does your work help patients?
I would like to think that what I do has a positive impact in the management of our patients by delivering a timely and accurate diagnosis and assuring adequate tissue sampling for the numerous tests that are required to initiate the appropriate treatment for each patient.
What degree(s) and/or training did you receive to achieve your position?
I received my medical degree from La Salle University in Mexico City and pursued training in anatomic and clinical pathology at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to undergo specialized training in Cytopathology, Molecular Genetic Pathology and Hematopathology with a focus on cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
The greatest challenge I am currently facing is to develop molecular assays that satisfy the needs of our clinical colleagues from the treatment and prognostic perspective as well as the pathologists' needs from a diagnostic standpoint while keeping the costs low with a fast and clinically relevant turnaround time so that we can bill and get reimbursed. Finding that “sweet-spot” where all or at least most of the stakeholders are satisfied is definitely a challenge.
What is the best part of your work as you see it? (most interesting, fun…)
The fact that every patient is unique and each day is different makes my work fun and not monotonous. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to interact with patients, do their biopsy, look at their cells under the microscope, test the cells with different markers to understand their origin and biology, be able to look into the DNA for molecular changes that sometimes can be specifically targeted and compile and deliver all this information to my clinical colleagues so that they treat the patients accordingly.
What AMP resources/courses have helped you advance your career?
I have found the annual AMP meetings and some of the email discussions from CHAMP members to be extremely valuable and educational. Recently, I took the Circulating Tumor DNA Testing: Advances, Challenges, and Applications online certificate course, and I am positive that it will help me advance my career.
In your opinion, what are the most valuable aspects of AMP membership?
The most valuable aspect that I have found as an AMP member has been the opportunity to become part of a large and multidisciplinary group of super intelligent people with similar interests in molecular pathology. Additionally, I also find valuable having access to JMD, state-of-the-art webinars, discounted registration to the annual meeting and the CHAMP emails.
This feature is a collaboration between the AMP Membership Affairs Committee and Training and Education Committee. If you would like to nominate an AMP member to be interviewed (self-nomination is fine) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.