Autopsy Center of Excellence


Mission Statement

It is the mission of the Autopsy and Cardiovascular Pathology Center of Excellence to perform autopsies for all of the contracted University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals, to determine the cause of death as accurately and completely as possible in all these autopsies, to search for diseases with implications for surviving family members in all these autopsies, to support research in all the autopsies with permission for this granted by the family, to utilize these autopsies for the education of pathology residents and medical students, to carefully scrutinize the clinical history and anatomic findings in all these autopsies for implications about how the care of patients could be improved, and to bring these implications to the appropriate forums for implementation of the highest possible excellence in patient care at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Clinical Services

The Autopsy COE based at UPMC Presbyterian runs a centralized autopsy service for most of the UPMC hospitals in the region including Montefiore, Shadyside, Mercy, Passavant, Magee (adults), St. Margaret's and McKeesport. These autopsies serve quality assurance at each of these hospitals.

Research Activities

The autopsy service supports long ongoing research for Alzheimer's disease, interstitial lung disease, and various other conditions including aortic stenosis, breast cancer and sepsis induced kidney injury, all pre-approved by the CORID (the Committee for Research and Education Involving the Deceased). The research for Alzheimer's disease and interstitial lung disease is done with STAT ("warm") autopsies at any hour of the day or night so as to obtain tissue with ribonucleic acids and other labile substances.

Teaching Activities

The autopsy service provides teaching in autopsy performance for both pathology residents and pathology assistant students. Cases from the autopsy service are used in teaching cardiovascular pathology to both second-year medical students in the cardiovascular block and fourth-year medical students in the Introduction to Autopsy Pathology elective. Images of gross and microscopic pathology from the autopsy service are used extensively in a course called the cellular and pathologic basis of disease, which combines histology, cell biology and general pathology, in the first year of the medical school curriculum.

Training Opportunities

Rotations on the autopsy service are required for pathology residents, and transitional year residents going into such fields as radiology also participate on a more elective basis.

Microscopic image of a recent myocardial infarct.