Anatomical Pathology
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Division of Anatomical Pathology

About us


The Department of Anatomical Pathology was established in the Karl Bremer Hospital with the appointment of professor HW Weber as professor and head of the Division of Pathology in 1958. Professor Weber was recruited from Frankfurt, Germany and he was one of the founder professors of the Faculty.

The department was one of the first departments to move from Karl Bremer Hospital to Tygerberg Hospital in 1967.

Professor van der Walt succeeded professor Weber in 1985 as head of the Department. Professor DJ Rossouw (1985 – 1994) joined the department as professor in Anatomical Pathology. They extended the research platform and continued to publish extensively in the areas of cardiovascular pathology, malignant mesothelioma, carcinoma of the lung and sarcoidosis.

Following professor van der Walt's retirement in 1993, professor DJ Rossouw succeeded as head of the department. He and dr PAB Wranz actively promoted the concept of morphological sciences that lead in 1993 to the successful incorporation of Cytopathology from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Department of Anatomical Pathology.

Following the unexpected death of professor Rossouw in November 1994, professor van Velden served  as head of the department until the end of 1995.  Prof Wranz succeeded him in 1996 and continued to strengthen cytopathology and to establish closer collaboration with the College of Medicine and the University of Cape Town. He facilitated the award of ad hominem professorships to drr GS Rutherfoord and R Hewlett from the Neuropathology Unit for their valuable and globally acknowledged contributions to neuropathology. During the past few years neuropathology continued to flourish under the expert guidance of dr Dan Zaharie, who by examination in 2013 became a Fellow of the European Confederations of Neuropathology. 

Prof JW Schneider succeeded professor Wranz as head in March 2000. In 2001 he was appointed as Head of the School for Basic and Applied Health Sciences with continuation of responsibilities in anatomical pathology. In this position, he served as the University of Stellenbosch's representative to interact with the National Health Laboratory Service. He played a key role in the establishment of the Pathology Research Facility (PRF) in 2006. The PRF has facilitated over the years the development and introduction of new diagnostic molecular pathology tests through national and international collaboration. In addition to supporting clinical geneticists, selected molecular tests are offered for the diagnosis, prognostication and therapeutic interventions of various haematological malignancies, colorectal carcinoma and carcinoma of the breast, including MammaPrint. Prof Maritha Kotze has played an important role to establish research into the molecular genetics of carcinoma of the breast. 

Prof CA Wright was appointed as head in February 2002. She established a very successful fine needle aspiration clinic at Tygerberg Hospital that soon attracted the support from the private sector, peripheral hospitals and the Western Cape Health authorities.  As an expert in cytopathology, Prof Wright introduced in 2005 a new MScMedSci (Cytopathology) programme to address a major need in postgraduate training of pathologists. She obtained a PhD in 2009 and pioneered placental pathology as a focus area in the Division. Since prof Wright's departure in 2012, the Cytopathology Unit continued to grow under the leadership of dr Pawel Schubert. Following the completion of an MPhil in Paediatric Pathology and in ongoing collaboration with prof Wright, he continued to grow research and training in placental and paediatric pathology. 

Dr WD Bates received the AJ Brink trophy for the best clinically relevant presentation at the Academic Year Day (1994). He also received the Faculty's Post-Doctoral Award to spend a year in Oxford (1996) during which time he performed extensive research on the Banff Classification of renal biopsies from transplanted kidneys. The results of this study have been published and acknowledged internationally. He obtained a PhD in 2012 and was subsequently promoted to associate professor in Anatomical Pathology. 

Following a period as Executive Head of the newly established Department of Pathology (2006 – 2012), prof Schneider succeeded prof Wright as head of the Division of Anatomical Pathology (2012 – current). 

Over the years the Division has produced numerous publications in peer reviewed international journals, contributed to text books, and trained more than ...... anatomical pathologists. The Division has played an important role in undergraduate teaching and postgraduate training of registrars and scientists from various disciplines, including several supernumerary registrars from African countries. 

The division has a strong history of national and international collaborative research projects, including with the Department of Pathology and the Developmental Biology and Pathology Centre, Children's Hospital, Boston, USA. This ten-year study, which closed in 2015, investigated the role of perinatal alcohol exposure in sudden infant death syndrome and stillbirth (PASS Research Network) in 1200 maternal fetal deaths. 

The Division has international research collaboration pertaining to tuberculosis of the central nervous system with Vreije University (VU) from Amsterdam and the Desmond Tutu TB center. The past few years saw collaborative research on Kaposi's sarcoma with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of North Carolina, USA. 

The Division successfully established the National Cancer Institute supported Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Biospecimen Repository (SSA RBR), which operates under the auspices of the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource AIDS (ACSR). The official launch was held on 18 November 2014.