March 2005 Mentor of the Month Interview: Stephen Kahn
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    • Professor (tenured), Pathology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
    • Vice Chair, Laboratory Medicine, Pathology
    • Director, Core Laboratory Operations, Point of Care Testing and Toxicology
    • Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Maywood , IL
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
    • 1968 – 72, B.S. (Zoology) Michigan State University , East Lansing , Michigan
    • 1973 – 78, Ph.D. (Biochemistry) Univ.of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, IL
    • 1973 – 78, Graduate Assistant, Univ.of Illinois Medical Center , Chicago , IL
    • All the following positions from LUMC in Maywood , IL :
    • 1978 – 80, Postdoctoral Fellow in Clinical Chemistry
    • 1980 – 87, Assistant Professor in Pathology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
    • 1987 – 00, Associate Professor (tenured) in Pathology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
    • 2000 – Present, Professor (tenured) in Pathology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
    • 1980 – 81, Assistant Director of Clinical Chemistry
    • 1981 – 94, Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry
    • 1994 – 1998, Director, General Chemistry, Toxicology and Near Patient Testing
    • 1998 – 2000, Associate Director, Core Laboratory Operations
    • 1998 – Present, Section Chief and Director, Chemistry, Toxicology and Near Patient Testing
    • 2000 – Present, Associate Director, Clinical Laboratories
    • 2000 – Present, Director, Core Laboratory Operations
    • 2003 – Present, Vice Chair, Laboratory Medicine
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    I am a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (ABCC)
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    Currently, AACC, NACB, CLSI, ACLS (Association for Clinical Laboratory Science) and CCCLW (Coordinating Council for the Clinical Laboratory Workforce). Previously, I was also involved with the AMA, ASCP and the Chicagoland CLMA.
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      Married for 30 years to Kristine who is a nurse in Loyola's OP Orthopedics Clinic. We have three children. Becca is 26, a Patient Service Representative in Loyola's OP Neurology Clinic and recently married to Joe (teacher). Matt is 20 and is in automobile mechanics school. Dan is 18, a H.S. senior and is really interested in the ‘behind the scenes' technical part of drama.
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      Avid reader and movie buff; lifelong bowler (190 average); and fan of playing fantasy football. Active in church and service groups.
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      Paris, Lourdes, Nice, Kuala Lumpur, New York City, Skamania Lodge (in the Columbia River Gorge) and San Francisco.
    • Favorite book/movie
      Stephen King's The Stand / can't choose one movie! - The Godfather, My Favorite Year, Chinatown , Contact, Matrix and L.A.Confidential.
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      Going on a couple of 3000 mile plus “road trips” during college spring breaks with friends.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine.
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    Biochemistry was easy and appealed to me in college. But I majored in zoology to become a marine biologist. Working for a year in a hospital after college allowed me to meet my future wife in the business office and a clinical chemist in the lab. He suggested I apply for a graduate assistantship in biochemistry or microbiology in Chicago . I got an assistantship in biochemistry and went into grad school with the goal of becoming a clinical chemist once I earned my degree.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    Protein markers of tissue injury; critical and point of care testing; cardiac disease; cardiovascular risk assessment; and clinical laboratory utilization.
  4. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    Serving in the capacity of a laboratory director in an academic medical center for 25 years and the overall contribution I've made to patient care.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    Occasional long hours and the stress of working in healthcare can some times be difficult. Otherwise, I really can't think of any major unappealing aspects.
  6. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    My most rewarding experience was serving as AACC President during the association's 50 th anniversary in 1998, especially since the Annual Meeting was in my home city of Chicago . My most challenging moments have been the times when my institution went through major changes, consolidation and downsizing. While always constants in healthcare, these hit my institution hard in the 1990's.
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    Being part of the healthcare team and the diverse responsibilities that I have. My job is never boring and time passes quickly. In particular, I really enjoy working with my immediate colleagues.
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    Looking at workforce projections, continued growth in point-of-care testing and laboratory automation (in all lab areas). Increasing clinical applications for proteomic and genomic tests. More focused, effective use of IT systems (I hope!) and in the application of informatics to healthcare/laboratory data.
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    Choosing the right career path and committing to life-long learning in their own and related fields while sustaining the ability to contribute to the healthcare system in the face of diminishing workforce and financial resources.
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    Make a decision on a career path. In an academic or industrial R & D position, it is important to develop and sustain strong research skills. This starts with experience in a solid laboratory of, ideally, a mentor. Developing good teaching skills is also important in academia. For those who want to work in a dedicated healthcare setting, going through an approved postdoctoral training program can help better prepare them. Try to take advantage of opportunities for professional interaction and networking. Being active and involved in your professional societies is an excellent way to build a foundation that will help you throughout your career.
  11. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    The only major reasons for how I've been able to ‘give back to my profession' have been working with outstanding colleagues at Loyola, being married to an understanding woman and having a terrific family. Rising up in the Chicago Section, I held many offices with an example set by my mentor, Ed Bermes. This provided me with visibility to AACC and other organization leaders. In the last 15 years, I've had many opportunities to take on different challenges at the national level. Besides serving as AACC's President, I served on the Board of Directors, chaired the House of Delegates and the Program Coordinating Commission. I've been on many committees, task forces, commissions, management groups or ad hoc groups. A very rewarding task is to serve on an AACC Annual Meeting Organizing Committee. Currently on my fifth AMOC, I chaired the 1996 Annual Meeting in Chicago . I am privileged to have served on ABCC's board of directors, including as Secretary-Treasurer, and now as a board member of the NACB. Certain issues which are important to me led to becoming involved in groups like CCCLW and the troponin I standardization subcommittee.
  12. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    My career got started by working in a nationally recognized institution under a wonderful mentor who encouraged me to be involved in our local section. Divisions also provide a similar and good opportunity to many others starting out. Be willing to give up some personal time for career development. It will pay off and provide satisfaction in giving back to your profession as your career matures. Of course, a new option that I didn't have is to be active in SYCL.
  13. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    Evaluate your career options, set goals, work hard, find the time for the important things in life and don't give up on your dreams. Learn to appreciate the value of the people that you work with, the rewarding challenges of laboratory medicine, becoming a master of change and developing good communication skills.
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