Samuel Alan Yousem, head of anatomic pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, died at 64 on Aug. 17, 2021.
George Michalopoulos, department chair, wrote in eulogizing Yousem for the Pulmonary Pathology Society: “I always knew that I had made the right decision by appointing Sam Yousem as the executive vice chair for anatomic pathology around 1997. … In addition to expanding the depth and scope of our department, he and I worked together to make the academic center a team of deeply subspecialized pathologists, so that we would provide the best diagnosis not only for our immediate hospitals, but also for all the 30-some community hospitals and centers owned by UPMC.
“In the years that followed, Sam and I worked closely together towards maintaining a high caliber of faculty, both in the academic and the community hospitals. I will miss Sam as a friend and partner.”
In the introduction to the society’s remembrances, Yousem is lauded as an internationally recognized lung pathologist and premier in his field.
Sam Yousem was born on Oct. 17, 1956, in Baltimore. He graduated from high school at 16 and then from Duke University, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, in 1977. He earned his M.D. from the University of Maryland Medical School, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha and magna cum laude in 1981.
Yousem completed anatomic pathology training at Stanford (1981-85) and became best known throughout his career as a pulmonary pathologist, an interest he developed while working at Stanford with Charles Carrington, one of the giants of pulmonary pathology at that time. Yousem published approximately a dozen peer-reviewed journals papers while at Stanford, including the first detailed descriptions of obliterative bronchiolitis following lung transplantation.
Yousem then joined the pulmonary division at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (1985-87), publishing nearly three dozen peer-reviewed articles during this time. He was then recruited to Pitt, starting his career here as an assistant professor but quickly ascending the ranks, becoming the Leon Barnes Professor, as well as director of anatomic pathology and vice chair of anatomic pathology services (both 1994-2020).
During his years at the University, he also served as residency program director (1992-98). A former trainee, writing about Yousem, remembered him as using stories to make his teachings tremendously memorable and for taking great care to walk trainees through the thought process toward a difficult diagnosis.
In 2001, while vice chair, Yousem converted the UPMC Anatomic Pathology Division into an organ-based Center of Excellence subspecialty system — one of the first in the U.S. He advocated for the use of new techniques in pathology, such as molecular diagnostics, and is remembered as an innovator in telepathology. He also was known for creating and furthering relations among American and foreign institutions.
Yousem’s research through the years reported early descriptions of light chain disease in the lung, myoepithelioma of the lung, alveolar adenoma, bronchiolocentric interstitial pneumonia, respiratory bronchiolitis associated interstitial lung disease, intravascular lymphomatosis, HPV in lung cancer, clonality in pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis, genetic studies of pulmonary IMTs and other entities that have since become widely recognized.
He is best known for studies and writing about the pathology of lung transplantation and biopsy surveillance for rejection, which resulted in invitations to speak across the globe.
Yousem is survived by his children Jack, Bailey and Emilie; brother David (Kelly); and mother Stella. Memorial gifts are suggested to North American Butterfly Association, 4 Delaware Road, Morristown, NJ 07960.
— Marty Levine