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Pathology Faculty Awards

Every year, the Department of Pathology recognizes four faculty members for exceptional contributions in the areas of anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, and experimental pathology.

Three of the awards are name in memory of: Joseph Holden, MD, William Roberts, PhD, and John WeisPhD, each of whom now remain with us through the impact they had on our lives.

In 2020, the Department of Pathology introduced a fourth award recognizing exceptional contributions in the area of education. This award is named in honor of Joseph Knight, MD.

About the Awards

The Joe Knight Award for Excellence in Education is awarded each year to a faculty member with significant contributions in educating students and trainees in the field of medicine.  The education mission of the University of Utah is extremely important to the department and our faculty are skilled educators.  The discipline of Pathology touches many areas of study and a foundational knowledge in this area is extremely important.  The award is named in honor of Dr. Joe Knight who served as the Division Chief of the Medical Laboratory Science Division.  The mission of this division is focused on education and Dr. Knight led our MLS program to become a national leader.  Dr. Knight was a skilled educator and contributed to the foundational curriculum used in our laboratory science training program.  Dr. Knight retired in 2010 after a long and distinguished career.  

The John Weis Award for Excellent in Experimental Pathology is awarded to a faculty member in the Department of Pathology that has achieved significant success in research.  Research is a core mission of the University and the department is the only clinical department in the school of medicine that includes a basic science unit.  Our Department of Pathology is highly ranked in research funding and our Microbiology and Immunology Division has gained national prominence.  The award is named in honor of Dr. John Weis who spent 27 years as a Professor in the Department of Pathology. His research was devoted to the study of fundamental principles of immunology, and he relished teaching Immunology to both graduate and medical students. He took particular pride in mentoring numerous PhD students, and watching their development into independent scientists. He also derived great joy from interactions with medical students, where he strove to encourage critical thinking.  Dr. Weis passed away in 2015 but his legacy lives on in the many lives he touched.

The Joe Holden Award for Excellence in Anatomic Pathology is given to a faculty member that has shown excellence in Anatomic Pathology.  The Division of Anatomic Pathology is comprised of clinicians that excels in diagnostics in a number of subspecialties.  Faculty in this division train around 20 residents each year and oversee five fellowship training programs.  The award is named in honor of Dr. Joe Holden who dedicated his life to science and medicine.  Trained as an MD/PhD, Dr. Holden was one of those rare individuals who excelled in both medical research and clinical practice. His investigational contributions include the description of prognostic markers for a variety of cancers and the discovery of a genetic mutation important in the pathogenesis of a subset of malignant melanomas. He pioneered the development of a rapid and accurate test for the recognition of mutations in an uncommon type of gastrointestinal neoplasm. He was a gifted surgical pathologist and an expert in the diagnosis of stromal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. He combined classical histopathologic evaluation and modern molecular techniques for the diagnosis of these neoplasms. Of equal importance were his contributions as a teacher. He contributed generously to the education of a generations of residents and PhD students in pathology at the University of Utah.  Dr. Holden passed away in 2009 but is remembered for his many contributions to our clinical, research, and education missions.

The Bill Roberts Award for Excellence in Laboratory Medicine is awarded to a clinical pathologist that has been a leader in the advancement of laboratory medicine.  The Department of Pathology founded ARUP Laboratories, a national reference laboratory that has raised the bar in quality and innovation in the field of laboratory medicine.  Residents rotate through the various specialties at ARUP and receive a broad spectrum of training in all areas of clinical pathology.  The Clinical Pathology Division is home to eight fellowship training programs.  The award is named after Dr. William L. Roberts, MD, PhD.  Dr. Roberts joined the Department and ARUP in 1998 to run the automated core laboratory and to bring total automation of that lab to fruition. For two years beginning in 1999, he served as medical director of the metabolic laboratory, and then in 2001, he added to his roles assistant medical directorship of the biochemical genetics lab and medical director of the chemistry group. Dr. Roberts was also an executive member of the ARUP Research Institute.  Dr. Roberts passed away in 2012 but will long be remembered for outstanding leadership and contributions that helped make ARUP and the Department of Pathology a nationally recognized center for excellence in the field of laboratory medicine. 

2023 Pathology Award Recipients

    This year’s recipient of the Joe Knight Award for Excellence in Education is Takara Blamires. Takara received her BS in Clinical Laboratory Science from Weber State, followed by a MS from the University of Utah. She worked as a medical technologist, lead technologist, and teaching specialist at ARUP for several years prior to joining our faculty in the Medical Laboratory Science Division in 2013. 

    Takara is the MLS Undergraduate Program Director. In this role, she has fostered successful achievement of program learning outcomes, leading to a 3-year board of certification pass rate of over 97% and a 100% placement rate for graduates. She has had an outstanding and consistent impact in the classroom and laboratory setting. Her teaching assignments have included serving as Course Director for numerous lecture and laboratory courses in Body Fluids, Clinical Chemistry, and Laboratory Correlations, as well as oversight of Clinical Chemistry rotations courses at local clinical affiliate sites. 

    She has received increasing recognition of her contributions to education and professional engagement beyond the University by national organizations, including recognition with a 2014 ASCLS Key to the Future Award and a 2020 ASCP Under Forty recognition award. Takara’s recent publication of teaching-related materials including study resources are used across the nation to facilitate student preparation for board of certification examinations.

    The faculty awardee for the 2023 Joe Holden Award recognizing excellence in Anatomic Pathology is Leslie Lomo. 

    Leslie completed her BS at the University of Michigan, followed by masters and MD degrees from Wayne State in Detroit. She moved to Harvard for her pathology residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she served as Chief Resident and completed subspecialty fellowships in breast pathology and cytopathology. Leslie spent 11 years on the faculty at the University of New Mexico before joining us in Utah in 2018. 

    She participates in Cytology, Gynecologic, and Frozen Section clinical services. Leslie has deep clinical expertise and she serves an expert consultant on many difficult cases for University patients and external clients. In addition to a robust clinical practice, Dr. Lomo currently serves as the Surgical Pathology Senior Resident Rotation Director where she is intimately involved in mentorship, teaching and onboarding of PGY1 residents. 

    Over the past year, alongside Drs. Ward and Cleary, she helped oversee major operational and educational changes in the gross room for all residents rotating through Surgical Pathology. She actively leads daily gross room education during the PA/resident “morning huddle”. These changes have led to measurable improvements in the education of residents and overall resident satisfaction. Her experience and expertise in education extends well beyond the walls of our department where she is involved at the national and international level – she is actively involved with ASCP-ASC Project ECHO tele-mentoring program, where she recently provided online instruction to an audience spanning across 24 locations and 10 countries across the African Continent.

    This year’s recipient of the Bill Roberts Award for Clinical Excellence in Laboratory Medicine is Dr. Ryan Metcalf. 

    Ryan received his MD degree for UC Davis, followed by AP/CP residency training and a fellowship in Transfusion Medicine at Stanford. He served for 2 years on the faculty at the University of Washington prior to joining our faculty in 2017. 

    He is Section Chief of Transfusion Medicine and he represents the department as Inpatient Chief Value Officer. He has established himself as a leader at the national level in transfusion medicine, serving as Chair of the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee, a member of the AABB Patient Blood Management Standards Committee, and a member of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Transfusion Committee. His specific interests include data-driven/informatics approaches to patient blood management and quality management. His research includes the application of machine learning tools to predict patient blood outcomes and the development of advanced data visualization tools to improve clinical practice, patient outcomes, and utilization management of scarce life-saving blood products. 

    Ryan has made important contributions to improving blood management in our health system, and the innovative tools that he has developed are likely to be adopted at the national and international levels.

    The recipient of this years  John Weis Award for Excellence in Experimental Pathology is Janis Weis.

    Janis obtained her PhD from the University of Minnesota. After doing her postdoc with Doug Fearon and serving for a brief period on the faculty at Harvard, she joined our faculty in the Experimental Pathology Division in 1988. 

    Janis and her husband John were key founding members in establishing immunology research at the University of Utah. Janis is a nationally recognized expert in the genetic and inflammatory mechanisms underlying the debilitating arthritis in chronic Lyme Disease induced by tick-borne infections with Borrelia bacteria. She has published more that 100 research articles, serviced on multiple national committees, and she has maintained continuous NIH funding for her research for 35 years. 

    Her contributions or community have been extensive. She has had many roles in the departmental and institutional graduate program, including serving as Director of Graduate Studies for the departmental PhD program and serving as Director of the interdepartmental Graduate Program in Molecular Biology. She has directed the Medical Student Summer Research Program, served as the Pathology DAC chair, and she founded and led the long-standing NIH-funded training program in Microbial Pathogenesis. Janis is also an outstanding teacher who has directly mentored numerous postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates, and medical student in her laboratory. She has been the thesis advisor for 13 doctoral student and served on more than 50 thesis committees. 

    2022 Pathology Award Recipients

      This year’s recipient of the Joe Knight Award for Excellence in Education is Dr. Kristi Smock. Dr. Smock is a Professor in the Department of Pathology. She is Chief Medical Director of the R&D Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology, and Medical Director over coagulation testing at ARUP Laboratories. 

      Dr. Smock is past Residency Program Director in our department. She is the recipient of multiple educational awards including a three times recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award in Clinical Pathology in our department. Dr. Smock has authored and presented dozens of international and national CE courses. She has served as chair and as a member of several university level and professional society educational committees.

      Dr. Deepika Sirohi is a star among our anatomic pathologists at the University of Utah and is a most deserving recipient of this years 2022 Joe Holden Award recognizing excellence in Anatomic Pathology.  
      Dr. Sirohi completed her graduate medical training in the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, India in 2000. She went on to serve as a staff pathologist in the Indian Army Medical Corps for a decade. 

      She arrived in the US in 2011 and completed AP/CP residency training at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio (2015), followed by a genitourinary pathology fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (2016), and molecular genetic pathology fellowship at the University of California San Francisco (2017).
      We were extremely fortunate to have attracted her to join our department in 2017 as a Clinical Track Associate Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2022. She serves on multiple AP molecular and genitourinary subspecialty services, providing superior clinical care. Beyond her established excellence in clinical service and teaching is an impressive record of continued scholarly activity. Dr. Sirohi is principle or co-investigator on multiple active grants, and in the last two years has authored twelve peer reviewed publications, two review articles, and is contributing author on multiple sections of the 2022 WHO Classification of Tumours of the Urinary and Male Genial Tumors (5th Edition).

      This year’s recipient of the Bill Roberts Award for Clinical Excellence in Laboratory Medicine is Dr. Joely Straseski. Dr. Straseski is a Professor in the Department of Pathology. She is Section Chief, Clinical Chemistry, and Medical Director over endocrinology testing at ARUP Laboratories. Dr. Straseski is an international recognized expert in endocrinology testing. She is the recipient of multiple research and clinical service awards and has served as chair and as a member of several high-profile clinical service and educational professional society committees.

      Dr. Matthew Bettini, this year's recipient of the John Weis Award for Excellence in Experimental Pathology, joined the faculty in 2019 as an Associate Professor after obtaining his BS from Furman University in biology, his MS from the Georgia State University in Biology and his PhD from Emory University in immunology.

      Later, he completed a postdoc at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital working on Type I diabetes with Dario Vignalli. Before being recruited to Utah, he was a tenure track Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in the Section of Diabetes and Endocrinology.

      Matt was named a McNair Medical Institute Scholar in 2013. In 2021, Dr. Bettini, with his collaborator Gretchen Diehl, received the first Kleberg Foundation award that the U has received on the microbiota and inflammatory T cells. He followed that up with a MPI R01 awarded this past November to go along with his other two active R01s on the microbiota and Type 1 Diabetes. He is one of our faculty in the enviable position of having a shortage of effort for his grants. His success in grant funding is also reflected in his success with publications which include an article in Nature in 2021. In addition to his research successes, Matt currently serves as a Senator in our Academic Senate, as a member of our Pathology Graduate Program Executive committee, and as the co-organizer for the last two M & I retreats.

      2021 Pathology Award Recipients

        Dr. Moser is deeply involved in education for our medical students and pathology residents and fellows. In undergraduate medical education she serves as a course director for the Molecules, Cells, and Cancer unit for first-year medical students. This is an intensive 8-week unit that integrates molecular and cell biology with genetics, hematology, cancer biology and basic oncology.

        As a pathologist leader in the medical school curriculum, she is active in MedEdMorphosis, the current effort to refresh and unify the medical education program and more fully realize the exceptional learning experience at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is currently leading a team that incorporates current medical students into the process of curricular re-design.

        Dr. Moser also directs PATH 7020, our elective rotation in clinical pathology at ARUP for 3rd or 4th year medical students. These students are seeking core exposure to clinical pathology, which can be very limited at other medical schools, and most PATH 7020 rotators eventually apply to our pathology residency program. She is the rotation director for hemostasis/thrombosis rotations for residents and fellows and also works closely with residents and fellows on our hematopathology services.

        Dr. Moser’s contributions are an important part of the visibility of pathology in our medical school curriculum, the local pipeline into pathology, and the training of our current residents and fellows. She is incredibly smart but also has a natural gift for sharing knowledge with others. She follows strong guiding principles and helps other to develop their professional identifies. She is an all-around star!

        Dr. Elke Jarboe is a star among the anatomic pathologists at the University of Utah and highly deserving of the Joe Holden Award recognizing faculty excellence in Anatomic Pathology.

        Many people don’t realize that Elke started out her career in a clinical pathology discipline, microbiology, receiving both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in microbiology at the University of Colorado. She stayed on for her medical school and residency training and was a proud post-sophomore pathology fellow at the University of Colorado. It was during her medical training that she found her true passion was instead in anatomic pathology and specifically in gynecologic pathology. Elke completed two highly prestigious fellowships in women’s and perinatal pathology and then cytopathology at Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

        The University of Utah was extremely fortunate to have attracted her to join our ranks after these 13 years of exceptional training. In 2008 she joined the Anatomic Pathology Division and has continued to garner many awards and accolades, including the prestigious Robert E. Scully Young Investigator Award in gynecological pathology in 2009, as only a first year Assistant Professor at that time. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2016. Her publications have had wide-ranging impacts in gynecologic pathology and cytopathology.

        She is perhaps best known for her seminal and ground-breaking series of six publications that established the fallopian tube as the origin of serous carcinogenesis of the gynecological tract, a discovery that has changed clinical practice and our understanding of this devastating cancer. Dr. Jarboe has been a cherished educator by medical students, residents, and fellows alike, and an outstanding administrator as the 14-year Director of Gynecological Pathology and the 10-year Director of the Cytopathology Fellowship at the University of Utah. We heartily congratulate Dr. Elke Jarboe for her exceptional career and the 2021 Joe Holden Award for Faculty Excellence in Anatomic Pathology.

        Dr. Robert (Rob) Blaylock received his medical degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine. He performed his residency in Clinical Pathology and his fellowship in Transfusion Medicine also at the University of Utah. He is currently a Professor of Pathology in our department.

        For almost 25 years, Dr. Blaylock was the single medical director over transfusion medicine services for University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospitals. Under his leadership, the ARUP’s Blood Donor Service Center was created and became a world-class blood donor center that has facilitated the donation and processing of millions of blood products that have been used to treat and save the lives of thousands of patients in our region.

        Dr. Blaylock is known as one of the medical directors who is the most dedicated to patient care in the history of the department and ARUP. We are honored and proud to have Dr. Blaylock be a part of the long list of successful and dedicated clinical pathologists in our department.

        Dr. June Round joined our faculty in Utah in 2011 after obtaining her BS from California Lutheran Institute, her MS from the University of Pacific in Molecular Biology, and her PhD from UCLA. Later, she completed a postdoc at Cal Tech with Sarkis Mazmanian.

        She was named a Pew Scholar in 2013, awarded a DP2 innovators award from the NIH in 2014, and a Burrough’s Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis in 2017. In 2020, Dr. Round received the first Keck award that the U has received in 20 years. She also achieved a truly spectacular run of grants in 2020: an R01 on bacteriophage pathobiology of inflammatory bowel disease; another R01 on the mechanisms of fungal involvement during intestinal disease, a third on microbiota-immune interactions that promote intestinal homeostasis; and an R21 on microbiota pancreas interactions during cancer.

        Her success in grant funding is also reflected in her success with publications including an article in Nature in August of this year. While Dr. Round’s work is indicative of an outstanding researcher, perhaps her greatest achievement was reached with the birth of her daughter Capri this past summer.

        2020 Pathology Award Recipients

          Angelica Putnam, MD is the first recipient of the Joe Knight Award for Excellence in Education. Dr. Putnam, a graduate of the University of Utah School of Medicine, completed her residency and a pediatric pathology fellowship in the Department of Pathology, followed by a fellowship in surgical pathology at the University of Colorado. Her love for teaching and education was already evident as a trainee, and she has been a member of the University of Utah Alumni Association Mentoring Program since 2002. As a faculty member, she has remained active in teaching.  In 2017, she was appointed Director of Undergraduate Education for the Department of Pathology, followed by an appointment as the Pathology Core Educator for the School of Medicine. In this role, her key responsibility is to oversee pathology curriculum throughout the four-year medical school experience.

          Dr. Putnam’s course lectures, clinical and laboratory teaching assignments, small group teaching experiences, and service on curriculum committees occupy several pages on her CV.  She accomplishes all this while continuing to sign out pediatric surgical pathology cases at Primary Children’s Hospital, participating in the interdepartmental vascular anomalies study group, and serving as the co-director of the Pediatric Anatomic Pathology Quality Assurance Program and the Responsible Investigator for Pathology for the University’s grant from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). Dr. Putnam is also internationally recognized as the co-author and major contributor to two atlases: Diagnostic Pathology: Pediatric Neoplasms, and Diagnostic Pathology: Non-neoplastic Pediatric Pathology; the first of which is in its second edition, and was recognized by the British Medical Association for their 2019 BMA Medical Book Award.  

          Dr. Kajsa Affolter first came to the Department of Pathology as a resident after completing medical school at the University of Kansas, later becoming chief resident. She was the first GI pathology fellow in the newly-established training program, and she joined the faculty in 2015. Dr. Affolter is highly respected for her expertise in GI, pancreatic, and liver pathology; her substantial contributions in clinical service have been complemented by administrative and leadership contributions. She is the current director of the GI fellowship program, director of the medical student clinical rotation in pathology, Clinical Service Director for pancreaticobiliary pathology and the inaugural director of the department’s post-sophomore fellowship program for medical students. Notably, she was successful in spearheading the approval for a Master’s of Science in Pathology degree, which will be awarded to medical students completing the post-sophomore fellowship, one of only two pathology student fellowships that offer a master’s degree in the USA.

          After obtaining his MD from Columbia and completing pathology residency in New York, Dr. David Hillyard came to Utah for research and clinical fellowship training in microbiology. He joined the faculty in 1984 and is recognized nationally and internationally for his deep expertise in molecular infectious disease testing. He has served on multiple national committees and advisory groups, including chairing the Infectious Diseases Division of the Association for Molecular Pathology and chair of the AMP Infectious Diseases Program Committee. Dr. Hillyard is a sought-after speaker and consultant for knowledge of the application of cutting-edge technology in infectious diseases molecular diagnostics. He has played a key role in the Department of Pathology and ARUP’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, guiding the selection, evaluation, validation, and trouble-shooting molecular testing technology for ARUP, the Department of Pathology; he has also served as an advisor to the State of Utah and to other Utah health systems.  On November 4th, 2020, Dr. Hillyard was honored by Utah Business Magazine with the Healthcare Hero Award, in recognition of his efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing testing capabilities and collaborating to improve community outcomes.

          Robert Fujinami, PhD, started as an undergrad at the University of Utah before receiving his PhD in immunology-microbiology from Northwestern University in Chicago, where he began his interests in animal models of MS. He was a star viral immunology postdoc with Michael Oldstone at Scripps Institute, before joining the faculty at Scripps. He moved to the faculty at University of California, San Diego for five years before being recruited as a full professor in the Department of Neurology and adjunct professor of Pathology at the University of Utah in 1990. In 2007, we were able to convince Dr. Fujinami to move his primary appointment into Pathology.

          Dr. Fujinami is internationally recognized for his many important contributions in viral immunology and autoimmunity. He has published ~250 research manuscripts, received multiple awards, served on the editorial boards of numerous journals in his field, and been a steady contributor through his service on NIH study sections and other grant review committees. He has made extensive contributions to the education mission, been thesis advisor for multiple masters and PhD students, and served as a mentor to undergraduates, grad students, postdocs, and junior faculty. His university citizenship and leadership have been exceptional, including service as President of the University Academic Senate and his current leadership role as Vice Dean of Faculty for the School of Medicine.