The Joint Pathology Center (JPC) will begin its mission of providing secondary consultation for the federal government, education, research, and operation of the National Pathology Tissue Repository in Forest Glen, MD, by next April, the center’s interim director, Colonel Thomas Baker, MD. The JPC will be fully operational and staffed by 29 full-time pathologists by September 2011.
“Our mission is to serve as the premier pathology reference center for the federal government,” said Dr. Baker. “We’ll be establishing our mission in April 2011, but that will just be the starting point.” He hopes to partner and collaborate with other federal agencies on secondary consultations, research, and education.
The JPC is intended to serve the key functions of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), including the National Pathology Tissue Repository and secondary consultation services. The AFIP is slated to close permanently by Sept. 15, 2011, as a result of the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Law (BRAC). Earlier this year, AFIP officials announced that after Sept. 30, 2010, it would no longer accept non-federal civilian consultation cases.
Once it begins operations, the JPC pathologists will perform secondary and telepathology consultations at the Forest Glen facility, where the National Pathology Tissue Repository will be located. A 6,000-square-foot histology laboratory will be located at the new Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There will also be a 3,600 square-foot state-of-the-art molecular laboratory in Bethesda to support consultation. Baker noted that all subspecialities will be represented at these facilities, and services offered to the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration, as well as other federal agencies.
The JPC will also offer pathology consultative services in specialty areas like nerve biopsy, depleted uranium, and testing on imbedded fragments from wounded soldiers. Depleted uranium analysis is performed for many Gulf War veterans, while imbedded fragment testing is currently performed for soldiers who are victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan.