Leona Ayers

Professor Emeritus of Pathology ayers.1@osu.edu

I retired in 2013 as Professor, Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, but continued working in faculty and hospital pathology Attending Staff positions. My pathology practice (Transfusion Medicine) continued until June 2015 when my Attending Staff status changed to Physician Scholar. Currently I serve as Principle Investigator (PI) for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Collaborative Human Tissue Network (CHTN/NCI), 2010-2019. Research focus on infection and cancer in human tissues developed during my years (1971-1997) as Medical Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratories where I managed infection diagnoses complicated by the emerging AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. During the 1980s I contributed nationally as Fellow of American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and served as Chair 1981-85 of the ASCP Council on Microbiology to bring recognition to HIV/AIDS related infections and cancer. I also served as Fellow member of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Microbiology Resource Committee, 1983-88. In 2014, I completed 19 years as PI of the Mid-Region AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (MR ACSR/NCI) deployed in 1995 in consortium with University of Texas, Southwestern (Dallas, Texas), Emory University (Atlanta, Ga) and Rush University (Chicago, IL). The MR ACSR/NCI provided resources for me to extend clinical and academic AIDS related activities to sub-Saharan Africa. NCI supplements to my MR ACSR/NCI grant for capacity building in diagnosis and study of AIDS related malignancies facilitated establishment of the Sub-Saharan African Lymphoma Consortium (SSALC/NCI) with pathology colleagues at the University of Nairobi (Nairobi, Kenya), Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda), Stellenbosch University (Cape Town, South Africa), Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg, South Africa), Lymphoma Study Group, Institute Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN, Abuja, Nigeria), Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria, Nigeria) and Imperial College (London, England). Collaborations in the subgrouping and immunophenotyping of HIV/AIDS associated malignant lymphoma followed as did other NCI grants with complimentary focus. MR ACSR supplements supported study of Burkitt lymphoma (BL) in the Epidemiology of Burkitt Lymphoma in East-African Children and Minors (EMBLEM) NCI program. I served as the 2015 Chair of the International Interlymph Committee that facilitates research into Burkitt lymphoma lymphomagenesis and treatment worldwide and continue as EMBLEM program pathologist. Over my career I have delivered 260 invited presentations at professional and scientific programs, conferences and workshops in the USA, Canada, Israel, Turkey, Serbia, Italy, France and Morocco as well as in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria and at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India. I have had the pleasure of participating as a lecturer in the education of thousands of OSU dental students, medical students, residents, graduate students and allied health students and as an advisor to 35 graduate, graduate professional, fellowship and special students. What has been learned is shared in 344 published abstracts, journal articles, reviews, book chapters, journal letters and technical newsletters. I started my career as a Zoology major with a BS degree awarded by Duke University in 1962.  A master’s of Human Anatomy degree program that same year at Duke University School of Medicine followed but in a remarkable turn of events in 1964, I joined the second year of Duke Medical Class ’67 and graduated with honors in 1967.  I found an intellectual home in pathology and completed my residency in anatomical pathology at Duke Medical Center and in Clinical Pathology at University Hospitals, The Ohio State University (OSU), followed by Certification by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomical and Clinical Pathology. OSU has been my medical practice and academic venue for over 45 years providing rewarding patient disease diagnosis opportunities, challenging patient care, enriching student, faculty and staff interactions and worldwide enlightening and inspiring experiences unimaginable at the beginning of my journey.