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The important work of a dissection scientist in a pathology laboratory

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22nd November, 2023

Kajaal Prasad is the team leader in dissection at our Nepean laboratory, playing a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Kajaal has been work­ing as a Hos­pi­tal Sci­en­tist (Dis­sec­tion Sci­en­tist) at NSW Health Pathol­o­gy for just over four years and pri­or to that was work­ing in pathol­o­gy in the pri­vate sector.

She worked at West­mead Hos­pi­tal in Anatom­i­cal Pathol­o­gy as a dis­sec­tion tech­ni­cian before pro­gress­ing to work as a Dis­sec­tion Sci­en­tist at Nepean.

“Pathol­o­gy is most def­i­nite­ly the ‘hid­den’ part of med­i­cine,” she says.

“When most peo­ple hear I work in pathol­o­gy – they auto­mat­i­cal­ly think blood col­lec­tion. Pathol­o­gy has so many sub-fields and anatom­i­cal pathol­o­gy is just one of them. We work col­lec­tive­ly behind the scenes to pro­vide patients with cru­cial details regard­ing their diag­no­sis and best treat­ment options.”

As the team leader in dis­sec­tion, Kajaal over­sees the safe and effi­cient dai­ly oper­a­tion of cut-up includ­ing the triage of specimens.

“I also con­duct macro­scop­ic dis­sec­tion (cut-up) and analy­sis of non-com­plex spec­i­mens such as biop­sies, small organs as well as com­plex spec­i­mens includ­ing par­tial and/or whole organs – basi­cal­ly I cut up organs!

“The work I do in dis­sec­tion plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the diag­no­sis and treat­ment of patients as it pro­vides cru­cial infor­ma­tion required for pathol­o­gy diag­no­sis. For exam­ple, in can­cer cas­es we assess tumours in any giv­en organ and map the tumour to cru­cial anatom­i­cal land­marks to iden­ti­fy whether the tumour is con­fined with­in the organ or has poten­tial­ly spread – which then assists in can­cer stag­ing and treat­ment for patients.”

Kajaal also pro­vides dis­sec­tion train­ing and sup­port to the laboratory’s dis­sec­tion tech­ni­cian, sci­en­tist and pathol­o­gy trainees.

She is pas­sion­ate about anato­my, health­care, and education.

“This role com­bines all these com­po­nents togeth­er as I get to use my anatom­i­cal knowl­edge, play a role in many indi­vid­u­als diag­nos­tic jour­ney and share my knowl­edge to oth­er mem­bers of the team dur­ing train­ing ses­sions. It’s the per­fect role for me.

“There’s always some­thing new – no one day looks the same. We def­i­nite­ly get some inter­est­ing cas­es that come along which always pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn. For me, the most reward­ing part of my role is being able to help patients with their pathol­o­gy diag­no­sis. The next reward­ing aspect of my role would be teach­ing our pathol­o­gy trainees – they are our future pathologists.”

A woman works at a laboratory bench wearing a white lab coat.
Kajaal says pathol­o­gy is the “hid­den” part of med­i­cine but is a very reward­ing career.

In addi­tion to her work at NSW Health Pathol­o­gy, Kajaal is also a PhD candidate.

“My research is look­ing at devel­op­ing high-fideli­ty 3D print­ed breast spec­i­mens for dis­sec­tion train­ing for pathol­o­gy trainees.”

Kajaal says she would def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend a career in anatom­i­cal pathol­o­gy, say­ing it pro­vides great flex­i­bil­i­ty to work inde­pen­dent­ly and with­in a team.

“It’s a place for con­tin­u­ous learn­ing – if you aren’t afraid of organs or oth­er bod­i­ly flu­ids,” she said.

“I also get to work with a wide range of peo­ple in the med­ical field who share insights about cas­es. We often get to dis­cuss com­plex cas­es with sur­geons who com­plete the surgery of the spec­i­mens we receive, work­ing togeth­er to pro­vide patients with the best pos­si­ble outcome.”


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