Gregory Dickinson, MD, Honored by College of American Pathologists Foundation

Gregory Dickinson, MD, a June 2020 graduate of Montefiore Einstein’s Pathology Residency Program, has received the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Foundation’s 2020 Herbek Humanitarian Award. Dr. Dickinson is the youngest recipient and the first resident to receive the prestigious honor, which recognizes unique and innovative contributions to advancing See, Test & Treat (STT), a CAP-sponsored community outreach event that offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings, same-day results and follow-up care, if needed, for uninsured and underinsured women in medically underserved communities.

The award is named for the late Gene N. Herbek, MD, a past president of CAP. Dr. Herbek conceived See Test & Treat and brought the first event to Native American women in South Dakota. Today, STT is presented each year by hospitals and other community-based health facilities across the United States to ensure the delivery of vital healthcare to women in need.

Dr. Dickinson plans to specialize in forensic pathology. He is currently a first-year fellow in the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office in Manhattan.

Virtual Award Presentation
Dr. Dickinson’s Herbek Award was formally announced on Saturday, October 10, during the 2020 CAP annual meeting, held virtually, October 10-14. He delivered his acceptance remarks via a pre-recorded video, shot on location on Montefiore’s Moses Campus. View it here: An article about Dr. Dickinson appears on the CAP Foundation’s website:

See, Test & Treat event at Montefiore, spring 2019.
See, Test & Treat event at Montefiore, spring 2019.

See Test & Treat at Montefiore
The Montefiore Einstein Department of Pathology spearheads a vibrant annual See, Test & Treat event. Working in collaboration with colleagues from the Departments of Radiology and of Obstetrics and Gynecology & Women’s Health, pathology faculty members, laboratory professionals, fellows and residents -- as well as an eclectic group of community volunteers that includes Einstein medical students from Einstein’s student-run ECHO Free Clinic -- donate their time and expertise on a Saturday in the spring or fall to deliver potentially life-saving healthcare services to women ages 21 to 64 in the Bronx community.

Double-headed microscope exercise, See, Test & Treat., spring 2018.
Double-headed microscope exercise at Montefiore, See, Test & Treat, spring 2018.

Expanding the “Scope” of Patient Education
Patient education is an important facet of See, Test & Treat. An essential item in the pathologist’s toolkit--the double-headed microscope—is deployed to accomplish this objective. Pathology residents and fellows invite attendees to join them in peering into the lenses of a double-headed “scope” to view Pap specimen slides. Dr. Dickinson and his colleagues initiated discussions with program participants about what they were seeing on the slides, providing lay-friendly descriptions and explanations; distributed educational materials; discussed the importance of routine preventative cancer screening; and explained the role of the Pathologist as a member of the healthcare team as well as the purpose of diagnostic testing in healthcare.

As a first-year resident Dr. Dickinson became intrigued with the double-headed microscope activity. His strong leadership skills came to the fore over the next few years as he recruited his peers to participate as volunteer patient educators at STT. He was convinced of the value of the scope exercise not only as an educational tool, but as a vehicle for team-building among trainees and promoting a sense of community between pathologists-in-training and the diverse patient populations they aspire to serve.

Thinking a step further out of the box, he was confident the double-headed scope activity could potentially benefit other patient populations.

“I was raised in a family where if you saw an unmet need, you had an obligation to make yourself useful,” says Dr. Dickinson, who grew up in Mission Viejo, California. “Translation: you employ your creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving skills, and whatever resources are available, and come up with a way to address it.”

In fall 2019, Dr. Dickinson seized an opportunity to do just that. He introduced the double-headed microscope exercise at a prostate cancer-screening event co-hosted by Montefiore and the Men’s Ministry of the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York. He invited program participants to join him in viewing slides of tissue samples illustrating different Gleason scores. Intrigued, attendees lined up to take a turn at the scope.

Dr. Greg Dickinson and attendee with double-headed microscope, Men’s Prostate Cancer screening event, Mount Vernon, NY, fall 2019.
Dr. Greg Dickinson and attendee with double-headed microscope, Men’s Prostate Cancer screening event, Mount Vernon, NY, fall 2019.

“When they sat down they would initially ask about the microscope,” Dr. Dickinson recalls. Then something remarkable happened. “After they learned I was a physician in training, some of the men spontaneously started telling me about their personal relationship to prostate cancer. They shared that they’d had their prostate removed, or that they have a friend with metastatic prostate cancer. One gentleman even wanted to see more histology, so I directed him to the internet.”

“We’re extremely proud of Dr. Dickinson’s achievement. His groundbreaking initiative in extending a unique feature of the ST&T model to African American men, a population at high risk for prostate cancer, opened an entire new opportunity for screening an additional underserved population,” says Michael B. Prystowsky, MD, PhD, Professor and University Chair of Pathology.

Dr. Dickinson with double headed microscope.

A Powerful Teaching Tool
The double-headed scope exercise is practical, says Dr. Dickinson. “You can do it anywhere. All you need is a table, two chairs and a double-headed microscope. If done correctly it creates lots of opportunity for valuable public health education experiences.”

In his or her role as patient educator, he notes, the pathologist can “take a curious-looking tool and show patients a disease they can’t see with the naked eye. To see a picture of cells in a book or on a screen is one thing, but to see it through the microscope is powerful.”

The exercise, he adds, “allows the pathologist to get out of the back room and help patients understand what the screening process is all about and the role pathologists play in helping clinicians render an accurate diagnosis.”

A Deserving Honoree
“Dr. Dickinson is well-deserving of this honor,” says Mark J. Suhrland, MD, director of the Pathology Department’s Cytology Division and a professor of pathology at Einstein who mentored Dr. Dickinson during his residency and nominated him for the Herbek Award.

“For three consecutive years, both as a resident and chief resident, Greg consistently demonstrated his deep commitment to supporting and promoting our See, Test & Treat program. He exemplifies the mission of our institution to advance the values of social justice, combat healthcare disparities and ensure access to high-quality, compassionate care for all people, particularly those in underserved communities.”

Tiffany M. Hebert, MD, director of the Pathology Residency Program at Montefiore and an associate professor of pathology at Einstein, agrees: “It was exciting to watch Greg take this concept and run with it. He was a wonderful resident -- a pleasure for his mentors to teach and learn from, and an inspiration to his peers, who expressed their admiration by electing him chief resident. He has a bright future and will help improve the health and well-being of patients and be a credit to our field.”