RE: Placenta Update

From:"Tarpley, John"

Re: Placenta Update
I really like this suggested approach. In ten years of working with graduate students and various non pathologists for research projects I found very few that were not willing to listen and try different methods when the methods were explained with a sound scientific basis. I have found similar results working with corporate scientists for the past 13 years. Most of these scientists are not trained in histotechnology or pathology. I've always tried to convey to them that they are the experts in their area, but we are the experts in our area and we'll get a much better result working together. That said there are the few exceptions that prove the rule. I've found that most of those individuals can be won over by a technique I've always called, "doing a Sheehan." Very early in my career I attended a roundtable discussion chaired by Dezna Sheehan. This topic came up in the course of discussion. My memory is somewhat hazy about the specifics, but either Dezna or one of the people working with her told the following story. One day Dezna was in the grossing room with a resident and saw him about to put an adrenal gland into formalin. She suggested that he should put some of the tissue into Orth's fluid since the differential diagnosis was pheochromocytoma and formalin would dissolve the characteristic granules necessary for diagnosis. The resident assured her in no uncertain terms that he knew what he was doing and didn't need her advice. As soon as he left the grossing area she went back to the specimen container and retrieved a small portion of tissue for Orth's fixation, processing, and staining. Dezna routinely attended slide reviews and was present when the case was reviewed. Dr. Enterline asked the resident where were the Orth's fixed slides since they were essential for the diagnosis. Just as the resident was about to admit to his error, Dezna pulled a slide try out from her papers and said, "Here they are sir. The resident loaned them to me for review and I forgot to return them." The resident developed a smile that probably wrapped almost round his entire head and they were fast friends and colleagues for the rest of his tenure and throughout his professional career. Now I'm not sure the story happened exactly that way, but I have been able to do "favors" such as this for residents and PIs who just didn't want to listen and afterward most of them have been great to work with after seeing the results. For that very small minority that even this doesn't work with - for them I think you do have to have an authority figure to act as a go-between or try to work with them as little as possible. I've always found this method to work better than pointy sticks, verbal barbs, or in any other way trying to belittle the person involved. Best of luck.

John E. Tarpley 5-1-A
Associate Scientist
Amgen Inc.
One Amgen Center Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
These Opinions are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

-----Original Message-----
From: Cathy Gorrie []
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2002 6:25 PM
Subject: Re: Placenta Update

Ask your researcher to bring you a (written) copy of the journal article with the methodology she is attempting to follow, then you will be able to point out all the discrepancies between it and the very clear protocol you would normally use.

I agree with what Thomas Jasper said. If the researcher can explain to you what they intend to do with the tissue, you may be able to compromise, or shock horror!, make helpful suggestions. Over-fixing may possibly destroy some things (Ag's, enzymes) BUT under-fixing will most certainly result in poor morphology and crap sections, especially for placenta. Maybe she needs to do some more research about alternative methods that will suit this tissue type and optimal fixation.

Good Luck, Cath

Hi everyone,
Thank you all for responding to my dilemma.

Here's an update on my placental problems.  Not only does the researcher have problems cutting the tissue smaller than 3 mm thick - she also wants it in formalin a minimum amount of time before processing (2 to 3 hours).    I've explained that the results she'll achieve under these conditions will be poor - but she insists.  Any other suggestions I may give to her?

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