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Life Sciences & Medicine

Professor Sarah Pinder

Sarah Pinder

Job title

Professor of Breast Pathology

Head of Section Research Oncology, Cancer Studies


Research Oncology, Cancer Studies

Date started at King’s


Challenges and achievements

When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?

I first became interested in Histopathology as an undergraduate at Manchester University (1981-1986) and, after ‘house jobs’ went directly into pathology as a career. After a job as Resident Clinical Pathologist I specialised in Cellular Pathology and subsequently trained in Nottingham. As a trainee Histopathologist at Nottingham City Hospital I developed a research interest in breast cancer (early 1990’s).

What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area? 

Cellular pathology represents, and interprets, the link between both tumour genetics and biology and the abnormal appearances of the tissues, including cancer. Pathology research is thus truly translational, potentially bridging the gulf between basic biology research and an individual patient’s tumour, the overall aim being to improve their care. Breast cancer is of particular interest to me as the microscopic appearances of different breast tumours are far more varied that almost all other cancers.

Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding. 

One of my specific interests is in the pathology of precursors of invasive breast cancer and I was the review pathologist for the UK National DCIS I trial. Completing the review of the thousands of slides of all the patients recruited into the clinical trial was a mammoth task but rewarding. This lead to several potential avenues of research which we are now continuing to follow up.

Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?

My mentors at Nottingham City Hospital, Professors Christopher Elston (now retired) and Ian Ellis inspired me to have a diagnostic and research interest in breast cancer pathology. Both are international renowned for their breast pathology expertise and their skill in lecturing, teaching and writing but are also decent, honest, funny human beings. I was fortunate to be a trainee at that time in that place.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?

The team of people in Research Oncology come from diverse backgrounds, both geographically and in training and expertise. The admixture of clinical and scientific members of staff provides a rich environment for collaboration and interaction. The combination of sessions of practical NHS diagnostic work and my academic roles is challenging but provides a variety I would not be without.

How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?

Half of my time is spend undertaking ‘routine’ diagnostic assessment of patient’s specimens for the NHS in the Department of Cellular Pathology at St Thomas’ Hospital as Lead Consultant Breast Pathologist. The other 50% is, largely, in Research Oncology at Guy’s Hospital where most of the research I undertake is based. I undertake a great deal of one-on-one training of junior pathologists and external post-graduate seminars and lectures. The administration as Head of Section of Research Oncology gets fitted in between, or at weekends.

How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?

I am not a good example of someone with a sensible work-life balance.

What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?

You need good and decent people around you to make any job enjoyable.  If they are also talented and clever, collaborate with them. You cannot do all the things people ask you to do, or even that you want to do, so try to be selective.


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