Maren Chan, MD, MS, is a board-certified dermatopathologist. She completed her residency and dermatopathology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. Her early career was spent as an active-duty Army dermatopathologist at San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Thereafter, Maren was the medical director of Aurora Diagnostics, an established, primarily dermatology-trained dermatopathology laboratory in South Texas. She received her BS in chemical engineering from Montana State University and MS in chemical engineering from the University of Washington, with an interest in mathematical modeling of airway gas exchange.
Combining her experiences in laboratory operations, engineering, medical research, and high-volume dermatopathology interpretation, she is focused on large-scale implementation of digital pathology and other technological advances in medicine.
We sat down with Maren to talk about her experiences at Harvard Medical School, her work with PathologyWatch, and her choice of the pathology field.
At what point did you decide to go into pathology?
I was doing a research fellowship in general surgery at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. While studying mammary tumors in mice, I became interested in histology and pathology.
What is it about PathologyWatch that appeals to you?
My life has typically been a search for opportunities, not necessarily a preplanned path. Even as a young teenager, I was always in pursuit of something that I felt passionate about. Since then, when an opportunity has presented itself, I’ve taken it. Pathology was like that, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I felt an instant connection with dermatopathology, and once I made that decision, I ran into people by chance who helped me move forward in that field. That is how I met Greg Osmond and April Larson at PathologyWatch. These connections just fell into place at the ideal time.
I truly believe the future of pathology is digital pathology. As this technology expands, I plan to devote the rest of my career to this field. I am a visual person, and it’s extremely satisfying to have a job where I can make diagnoses entirely by what I see.
What do you bring to PathologyWatch?
I really thrive on process management, quality control, and unifying all aspects of this business. I enjoy making sure we have a great product at all levels. At this moment, we have a product that is truly fabulous, but I always like to ask myself, “How can we make it better?” That’s what I find exciting. I like to focus on the physical operational functionality of our company to ensure it is both compliant and efficient and that we give the clinician and patient the best that healthcare can provide.
When it comes to serving dermatologists, what matters most to you?
I’m an efficient person. I have a propensity for that, but I also had to learn to manage my time better and work quickly because I was raising a family while going to school and having a busy career. I recognize the need for efficiency in the dermatology clinic where dermatologists expect a careful, well-thought-out, rapid diagnosis with clear communication. I think it’s important to provide that combination of diagnostic expertise, efficiency, and safe operational quality control. It’s essential in dermatology—more so than any other field—and I know digital technology will be instrumental in supporting that.
How is PathologyWatch impacting patient care?
Digital pathology tremendously improves the accuracy of pathologic diagnoses. A key to a good pathologic diagnosis is clinical correlation and histologic expertise. This technology makes it easier for pathologists to collaborate between themselves and clinicians, which provides better patient care. It’s accessible at home or in the clinic—anywhere and anytime. I believe digital technology is going to change the entire field of pathology.
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t have a lot of free time. My focus is on PathologyWatch—I spend a lot of time doing that and enjoy it. But I also enjoy spending time with my boys. My kids partake in various sports, and watching them grow and become their own unique human beings is something I cherish. We split our time between Utah and San Antonio, TX—two very different and wonderful places to live.