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History of the ASC
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Over 60 years of Saving Lives One Cell at a TimeTM

In November 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC) held its 60th Annual Scientific Meeting, and at this Diamond Anniversary Meeting we looked back and traced the origin and development of the Society. Many individuals, both physicians and cytotechnologists, have contributed selflessly to the birth and growth of this organization.

From the beginning
Inter-Society Cytology Council The idea that diagnosis could be formulated by examining cytologic smears is not a new concept, but it received its greatest impetus from the publication, in 1943, of a monograph of Dr. George N. Papanicolaou and Dr. Herbert F. Traut. This monograph, entitled Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear, caused a stir in obstetric-gynecologic circles and among pathologists. Many articles from various investigators followed and on November 15, 1951, Dr. Arthur Purdy Stout of New York City convened a meeting of prominent pathologists and clinicians from various organizations interested in the cytologic method. From the deliberations of this group, the Inter-Society Cytology Council was formed with Dr. Joe V. Meigs as first Chairman of the Executive Committee.

The Founding Executive Committee was as follows:

Chairman:                       Joe V. Meigs, M.D.
Vice-Chairmen:              George N. Papanicolaou, M.D. (Cytology Representative)
                                         Frank W. Hartman, M.D. (Pathology Representative)
                                         F. Bayard Carter, M.D. (Clinical Representative)

Secretary-Treasurer:      Paul F. Fletcher, M.D.
Members:                        Arthur Purdy Stout, M.D.
                                         Lewis C. Scheffey, M.D.
                                         Emerson Day, M.D.
                                         Charles S. Cameron, M.D.
                                         Raymond F. Kaiser, M.D.
                                         Charles S. Cameron, M.D.
                                         Raymond F. Kaiser, M.D.

The purpose of the founding group was to “…foster the cytological method so that its maximum potential of usefulness as a study tool and as a clinical diagnostic technique may be achieved in the least possible time…”

Guiding principles of the new organization for cytology were expressed as follows:

“To encourage a high degree of scientific, academic and clinical interest and at the same time render maximum service in making the cytological method universally available; the active participation of cytologists, pathologists and clinicians in the organization and function of the Council is essential. No cytologist, pathologist or clinician can utilize the method effectively without the other two. It will require the complete and unselfish help and cooperation of all three to assure the success of this new cytological organization.”

“Therefore, the active membership of the Council is open to clinicians, pathologists and cytologists engaged or interested in an utilization of the cytological method.”

The 1st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Inter-Society Cytology Council was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 19-20, 1953, and the tradition has continued each succeeding year. At the 9th Annual Scientific Meeting held in Memphis in 1961, the name American Society of Cytology was adopted by unanimous vote of the membership. The current name, American Society of Cytopathology, was voted on during the 42nd Annual Scientific Meeting held in Chicago in 1994. This change was made to express the evolution of the profession.

Organization Structure and Function
The original Constitution and By-Laws, as they were called until 1999, were drafted at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York City, in February 1953. The By-Laws, which define and describe the purposes and functions of the Society, are reviewed and modified as necessary. These were altered at the Interim Executive Committee Meeting in June 1954 to include the category of Associate membership for cytotechnologists. The membership at this time consisted of Founder, Active, Associate, International, Life, and Honorary members. The current membership categories include Medical, Cytopathology Fellow, Pathology Resident, Voting Cytotechnologist, Cytotechnologist, Scientist, Student Cytotechnologist, Affiliate, International Medical, International Affiliate, International Trainee, Life, and Honorary members.

In March 1973, the Executive Committee decided to eliminate the category of International membership. In November 1974, the International category of membership was dropped by voting members at the Annual Business Meeting; however, in 2012, the International Membership category was reinstated by the voting membership.

In 1965, the ASC became an AMA Specialty Society and has retained this status. Each year, the ASC sends a delegate to the AMA House of Delegates meeting. Through the AMA House of Delegates, the ASC has the opportunity to interact with other groups represented at the meeting, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other related organizations.


The Society started with 135 members and has grown over the 60 years to a strong membership of approximately 2700. Above is a breakdown of ASC membership as of March 31, 2017.

Presidents of the American Society of Cytopathology
Over sixty distinguished Presidents have served the Society, all who are well known throughout the field of cytology. The success of the ASC is built on the efforts of these Presidents, and the ASC has enjoyed many successes.

Cytotechnologist Role in the Society
The cytotechnologist role in the ASC has evolved over the years. Originally, the cytotechnologists were welcomed into the Society as Associate members in 1954. In 1981, a new category was established setting criteria for a voting cytotechnologist in the Society. That same year, three cytotechnologists were voted onto the Executive Board. Later in 1995, the membership category was changed to Cytotechnologists members and Voting Cytotechnologists members. In 2001, the requirements for the Voting Cytotechnologist membership category were revised to encourage cytotechnologist participation.

Recognition Awards
In an effort to promote interest in cytology and to reward meritorious investigators and promoters of cytology, the ASC has presented various awards at the Annual Scientific Meeting throughout the years.

Current awards include:

  • Papanicolaou Award: Formerly the American Society of Cytology Award for Meritorious Achievement in Cytology, this award was first presented in 1958. In 1964 the presentation of an award for meritorious achievement was resumed, and named The Papanicolaou Award of the ASC.
  • Cytotechnologist Award for Outstanding Achievement: Formerly called the Cytotechnologist of the Year Award, and established in 1966, this award is given to a Voting Cytotechnologist or Cytotechnologist member of the Society for meritorious service or accomplishment in cytology.
  • ASC President’s Award: This award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to an ASC member. Selection of the recipient is at the discretion of the current ASC President.
  • Excellence in Education: This award has been presented annually since 1998 to a cytotechnologist or physician member of the ASC. The Award is in recognition of meritorious service or accomplishments in the field of cytopathology education to include the education of cytotechnologists, pathology residents and/or cytopathology fellows.
  • Leopold Koss Lectureship: In 2010, the ASC established the Leopold Koss Lectureship to honor Dr. Leopold Koss. A prominent icon, who shares a dedication and commitment to furthering humanities, is invited to present this Lecture.

The ASC provides awards to support young investigators submitting abstracts to the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting. The selection is based upon research excellence as evidenced by peer-reviewed scoring.

  • Cytotechnologist Scientific Presentation Award: Established in 1969, the award is presented to a cytotechnologist or student cytotechnologist enrolled in a CAAHEP-accredited cytotechnology program who presents the best scientific paper in cytology at a platform or poster session during the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting.
  • Warren R. Lang, M.D. Resident Physician Award: Established in 1978, the award is presented annually to recognize a resident or fellow in an approved training program who submits the best scientific paper in cytology at a poster or platform session during the ASC Annual Scientific Meeting. 
  • Geno Saccomanno, M.D. New Frontiers in Cytology Award: Established in 1993, the award is presented to an ASC member who is not nominated for another abstract award. The paper contributes to better understanding of cell biology or enhanced diagnosis and show significant innovation, good study design and potential diagnostic utility.

Since 1974, the ASC has had representatives on a committee of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) concerned with certification, specifically assisting in the preparation of the Board of Certification examination. Since late 1976, the ASC has had a full-fledged member on the Board of Certification (formally the Board of Registry), which oversees the certifying examinations of various types of laboratory personnel.

The Cytotechnology Programs Review Committee (CPRC) was formed in 1976 and is responsible for reviewing Cytotechnology Trainings Programs as part of the accreditation process. The CPRC acts as an advisory body to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which is responsible for accrediting programs. In July 2012, the CPRC welcomed three additional sponsors, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society for Cytotechnology and the College of American Pathologists. The incorporation of additional sponsors ensures a broader representation of the professional community in addressing legitimate concerns about and responsibilities for the quality of professionals prepared by CAAHEP educational training programs.

From the start of the organization, the ASC has been involved in improving the cytologic skills of those engaged in cytology. The educational programs are of prime importance to its members and to the Executive Board. The ASC recognizes the need to quickly integrate evolving basic science insights and experimental/newly available techniques into research and clinical practice, and addresses this need through its educational programs. To meet the educational needs of its constituents, the ASC has developed an ambitious set of integrated programs.

Annual Scientific Meetings
Since 1953, the ASC has sponsored an annual  scientific meeting. Attendees are attracted to this   event to keep abreast of the dramatically changing   cytopathology arena. The ASC Annual Scientific Meeting provides a high-quality forum for the continuing education of the professional cytopathology community. Produced by the Scientific Program Committee, the Scientific Sessions encompass three days of panel discussions, invited lecturers and platform presentations. The presentations represent all aspects of cytopathology. The Meetings also consists of Workshops, Video Microscopy Tutorials, Panel Luncheon Seminars, Roundtables, Virtual Slide Seminars, Strategies in Cytology Education, and other courses. The ASC Annual Scientific Meetings are considered a valuable educational resource and networking experience.

Initiated in 1983, the teleconference series was designed primarily for rural hospitals. The network has since expanded to over 100 hub sites in both rural and major metropolitan areas. As of April 2011, the 60-minute new and improved Cyto-econferences are offered in a webinar format. They feature a live presentation, online reference materials, and a question and answer session so that participants benefit from a live educational experience from the comfort of their home or office. The webinar format allows for a more interactive experience for registrants. The presentations are also archived on the ASC CytoCE Center.

Progressive Evaluation of Competency (PEC)
Started in 2007, PEC tracks the progress of pathology residents and cytopathology fellows and their overall competency as they begin their cytopathology careers. The PEC program is available to Program Directors who are current ASC members. The ASC is excited to help the future of cytopathology by developing this comprehensive program to ready the next generation of cytopathology professionals.

Case Studies
Developed in 2007, Case Studies provide an opportunity for participants to make diagnostic decisions and compare them with nationally known experts. A new case is outlined in each issue of The ASC Bulletin with images and clinical histories available on the ASC Web site along with a self-assessment test.

Launched in January 2009, the ASC offers the only online pathology journal club. This is an excellent educational tool that highlights a recent article from a respected peer-reviewed journal.

ASC Foundation
The ASC Foundation expands financial support for the ASC mission and its strategic goals of education, advocacy, and research.

The ASC launched its philanthropic initiative in 2002 with the inauguration of its Foundation. The ASC Foundation has been dedicated to funding the non-operational costs of the Society, particularly programs and endowments, to assure fiduciary responsibilities to the mission, membership and public as it insures the Society’s financial stability. An organized Society dedicated to education, advocacy and research exists, but its viability and functionality depend on financial resources to support its programs.

The ASC Bulletin and ASC Web site have been redesigned and restructured to open communications with ASC members. The ASC Bulletin, first published in May 1964 as The Cytotechnologist’s Bulletin, has evolved into a valuable source of practical information for both scientific and Society related matters.

The ASC Web site has become the fastest method for disseminating late-breaking scientific news, while providing easy access for members to a variety of services. Visitors to the Web site can participate in educational offerings online.

The ASC Listserv has been serving the ASC since 1998 and it continues to be an active communication tool for ASC members. The ASC has added Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to its communications tools.

Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology (JASC)
In May 2012, the ASC signed a contract with Elsevier Publishing to develop the Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology (JASC).

Editor-in-Chief:       Syed Z. Ali, M.D.

 Associate Editors: Eva M. Wojcik, M.D.
Paul E. Wakely, Jr., M.D.
Dina R. Mody, M.D.

The 2012 and 2013 ASC Annual Scientific Meeting Abstracts were published in preview issues of the JASC. The official launch of the JASC was in January 2014.

National Office
From its inception as the Inter-Society Cytology Council in November 1953, Dr. Paul A. Fletcher, a gynecologist, served as Secretary-Treasurer until November 1957. Dr. Fletcher gave much of his time and money to see that the young organization flourished. From November 1957 to November 1962, Dr. Paul A. Younge, also a gynecologist, served as Secretary-Treasurer. As did his predecessor, Dr. Younge served conscientiously and assiduously. The fact that the ASC exists, as we know it, is largely due to the fruit of the toils of Dr. Fletcher and Dr. Younge. The format of the Annual Scientific Meeting is essentially through the efforts of Dr. Younge.

Preceded by a year as assistant secretary to Dr. Younge, Dr. Warren Lang assumed office in November 1962. Initially, the duties of the Secretary-Treasurer were conducted without any formal office space. In 1973, the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer was moved to the Health Sciences Center of The Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Drs. Bernard Naylor, Yener Erozan, Patricia Saigo, Santo Nicosia, David Kaminsky, Edmund Cibas and Daniel Kurtycz have all served as the ASC Secretary-Treasurer. In 1994, the Office moved to Wilmington, Delaware and has been in its current location since 2009.

At present, the National Office Staff includes Elizabeth Jenkins, Executive Director, Sondra Forman, Events and Educational Development Coordinator, JoAnn Jenkins, Finance and Online Education Manager, and Deborah MacIntyre Sheldon, Cytotechnology Education Coordinator, and Patty Huff, Membership and Marketing Coordinator. The Staff assists the functioning of all committees and activities of the ASC.

Leading into the Future
As we look ahead to the future and toward our 75th Anniversary, we do so with grateful remembrance to all the Presidents, Executive Board Members, Committee Volunteers, and Members, who have served in the past and with gratitude to those who are serving at present and into the future.

The ASC has truly become a Society where colleagues, mentors and friends have gathered to Save Lives One Cell at a TimeTM.

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