Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Department of Pathology

The RCSI Pathology Department is located in the RCSI Smurfit Building on the Beaumont Hospital campus in North Dublin.

The major focus of the Pathology Department is on education and assessment. It also has a very active research programme focusing mainly on molecular translational research. The Department has very close links with the Pathology Departments in Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Undergraduate programme

The educational undergraduate programme involves the teaching of more than 350 undergraduate students in a five-year programme in RCSI. There is close liaison with our colleagues in Connolly Hospital in the delivery of pathology to the Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme. We also have close links with our colleagues in Bahrain and Penang and liaise with them in providing teaching in pathology on the five-year undergraduate programme in Bahrain Medical University and Perdana University in Penang.

The undergraduate education programme in pathology is delivered in the five-year programme in the Intermediate Cycle. It is taught using a number of different modalities and small group teaching and encourages and guides students to learn pathology through the use of clinical scenarios.

Core programme

The core programme includes a series of lectures on the mechanisms of disease and systemic pathology. The lectures are delivered by experienced pathologists, some of whom have the fellowship in surgery and some of whom have their membership in medicine. Many of our teachers have also been awarded MDs and PhDs based on the submission of research theses. There is a very strong emphasis on the clinical aspects of pathology throughout the pathology teaching programme as all the teachers are diagnostic clinical pathologists.

The lectures

The lectures are supplemented by an extensive computer assisted learning programme and teaching based on clinical cases and tutorials. The teaching based on clinical cases provides details of the clinical presentation of diseases and the students are taken through cases with an emphasis on clinical symptoms and signs, appropriate laboratory and radiological tests and discussion regarding differential diagnoses. The students are guided on how to make a definitive diagnosis and the pathology of the disease is discussed.

The computer assisted learning programme is a multimodality programme which includes clinical case presentations with a discussion of differential diagnoses and discussion on the pathology of disease and a series of tutorials on selected topics. It also includes a variety of macroscopic and microscopic pathology and a quiz and self assessment section. The tutorials focus on topics discussed in lectures and provide an overview of the topic.

The assessment of pathology in the undergraduate programme is based on multiple choice questions based on clinical scenarios or extended matching format questions. In addition, CPCs and short notes are also part of the assessment process.

The top students in the class are invited to attend a special exam for the awarding of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize in Pathology.


The Pathology Department fosters research which links in with the translational research pillar of the RCSI. It promotes smaller research projects to facilitate career development of its junior lecturer/NCHD staff. It also participates in a programme to promote an enthusiasm for research in medical students and to facilitate their involvement in small research projects and audits.

In support of Translational Research, the Pathology Department has established, and maintains, a tissue biobank in collaboration with the Diagnostic Histopathology Department in Beaumont Hospital. The aim of this activity is to have a well annotated, carefully collected, good quality bank of tissue available for researchers, particularly in the area of prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. The current focus of research within the Pathology Department is in the area of prostate cancer and the development of biomarkers in both colorectal cancer and breast cancer. There is particular interest in the translation of these biomarkers into the diagnostic arena. The Department is part of the Prostate Cancer Research Consortium in collaboration with UCD Conway Institute, the Molecular Medicine Institute in Trinity College Dublin at St. James's Hospital and Dublin City University. The laboratory currently delivers molecular analysis such as HER2 FISH analysis in breast cancer and mutation analysis in solid organ tumours including colorectal and lung.