Director: Bret C. Mobley, M.D.
Vanderbilt is an outstanding place to train in Neuropathology (NP). A wide variety of surgical and autopsy cases, affable and knowledgeable faculty, and the exciting Nashville environment make Vanderbilt unique. The NP training program is designed to allow the trainee to develop skills in diagnostic neuropathology as well as skills in neuroscience research related to contemporary neuropathology. The program is also designed to develop the trainee's teaching skills and, to some extent, administrative skills.
During the first year of training, the NP trainee learns both surgical neuropathology and basic autopsy neuropathology, i.e., gross examination and description of surgical and post-mortem specimens, examination and description of microscopic specimens including intraoperative frozen sections, and formulation of diagnoses under the supervision of one of the neuropathology attending staff. By the end of the first year of training, the trainee will be skilled in handling, preparing, and diagnostically interpreting most clinically related material.
The NP trainee is introduced to the discipline of neuropathology during the first months of training through the study of teaching materials. This material includes a library of texts on various aspects of neuropathology and a collection of microscopic slides in the teaching collection. As the first year progresses, the fellow will assist in instructing and supervising other trainees such as AP residents or rotating residents from disciplines beyond pathology. Although the first-year trainee has minimal time to actively participate in research, the trainee can explore areas of research interest with the faculty and begin to develop a focus area of particular interest.
The second year of training includes a focus on brain autopsy diagnosis, with increased exposure to neurodegenerative disease. Duties will include organizing the case composition of the weekly neuropathology autopsy conference, reviewing the slides from all autopsy cases with the rotating AP residents and attending, and visiting the Medical Examiner’s office monthly. Overall, this brain autopsy-focused work will account for approximately 20% of the trainee’s schedule.
The remainder of the second-year trainee’s effort can be designed by the trainee to include a mixture of neuroscience research and surgical case diagnosis. Regarding research activities, the second-year fellow is expected to participate in a basic research or translational research project. The project will be selected by the NP trainee in consultation with the Director of Neuropathology, to be carried out in association with a research laboratory at Vanderbilt, or in association with Neuropathology Division faculty members. This work may be used, if appropriate, to compose a research grant application. Continued training in surgical case work may also be pursued in the second year. Diagnostic areas such as muscle biopsy analysis and the role of molecular testing in the diagnosis of neoplasms continue to evolve, and the fellow may choose to dedicate a portion of their time to gain additional exposure to these areas.
In summary, the Vanderbilt NP training program provides exposure to a wide variety of cases, and our fellows receive a structured and comprehensive education in diagnostic surgical and brain autopsy work. Importantly, the second year of the fellowship includes flexibility, where the trainee can choose to focus more heavily on research or on additional clinical training. These aspects of the program, together with our affable and experienced faculty, make Vanderbilt an excellent place to train.
Currently accepting applications for fellowships starting July 1, 2024. The 2025-2026 position has been filled.
Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, Vanderbilt application*, CV, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and ECFMG certificate (if applicable) to:
Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
1161 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232
*Application and pertinent information can be found under Graduate Medical Education