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REVIEW ARTICLES AND MINI REVIEWS: Commencement of a New Section

Selected Cases from the Arkadi M. Rywlin International Pathology Slide Seminar Club

Suster, Saul; Allen, Philip W.

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: January 2001 - Volume 8 - Issue 1 - p 21-22
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The Arkadi M. Rywlin International Slide Seminar Club was started in 1990 by one of us (SS), to honor the memory of one of our mentors in pathology, the late Arkadi M. Rywlin. The Club officially started on November 28, 1990 with 10 participants, and currently has 37 members encompassing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. The majority of the participants are seasoned and highly experienced pathologists practicing at academic institutions throughout the world. The intention is to distribute challenging and interesting cases with the view of fostering rapid dissemination of information and an exchange of ideas in a collegial environment.

The modus operandi of the Club, however, differs from that of other slide seminars. All members are expected to contribute H&E slides of selected cases along with their diagnoses, comments, and queries, which are distributed to the rest of the members for their comment. The comments are then collated and resubmitted to all of the members for their review, along with the slides for the forthcoming seminar. In this way, we all see the opinions and obtain the views of the other members on the circulated cases. The exercise is repeated quarterly, with 16 to 20 cases being circulated with each seminar. The Club has already distributed over 500 cases since its inception. The exchange of opinions has always been lively and eclectic, occasionally interspersed with wit, and sometimes with the acknowledgement of the limitations we face and the need to constantly revise our thinking about disease processes.

In keeping with Dr. Rywlin's legacy, the Club fosters not only an open exchange of ideas but also a free-thinking spirit that challenges dogma in the specialty and pushes its members to explore additional possibilities. This exchange of ideas has already resulted in several collaborative publications by members of the Club. Dr. Rywlin's legacy and spirit remains alive today not only through the countless residents he trained, but also through the continuation of his quest for excellence and the tradition of free thinking fostered by this Club.

Arkadi M. Rywlin, M.D. (1923–1987) (Figure 1), also know as “Ark” by his friends, was the Director of Laboratory Services at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Greater Miami and Professor of Pathology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He was born in the free city of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), on July 27, 1923, to a Jewish family of Russian origin. Although initially educated in Danzig, he moved to Paris in 1937 to study in the Lycee Michelet, and escaped from France to Spain (Barcelona) in 1939 to avoid the Nazis. From Spain, the Rywlin family moved to Tel-Aviv in 1940 where he finished his schooling. The exposure to so many languages at an early age resulted in Ark's being fluent in German, Russian, Hebrew, Polish, French, and Spanish by the time he was 16.

FIG. 1.
FIG. 1.:
A smiling Arkadi M Rywlin (right) at a multiheaded microscope in the dermatopathology section, Suite 7J, at New York University School of Medicine in 1980. His famous disciple, A. Bernard Ackerman (left), is seated opposite him. (Reproduced, with permission, from Am J Dermatopathol 1989;11:380. Copyright © by Raven Publishers.)

After a period at the American University of Beirut, Arkadi Rywlin enrolled in the Medical School of the University of Geneva, where he completed his medical education, and later stayed on to finish his residency in pathology under Professor Erwin Rutishauser. Ark was often fond of pointing out that he was directly linked to the master of pathology, Rudolph Virchow, through a direct line from his disciples, who included Professor Askenazi and Professor Rutishauser. In 1953, Ark moved across the Atlantic and entered residency training in pathology at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago under Otto Safir. After a few years of moving around at various jobs, he went to South Florida where he eventually became Chairman of Pathology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach in 1962, until the time of his death due to acute myeloid leukemia in 1987.

Although Ark Rywlin was recognized internationally as an expert on bone marrow pathology (1), he was truly a “pathologist's pathologist.” He could hold his own in any discussion regarding any topic with any expert in pathology as well as converse eruditely on virtually any topic in the sciences and humanities, from world politics to sports to history. His quick wit and merciless logic combined with his formidable intellect served to produce an overpowering and intimidating figure. Ark was feared and respected at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he enjoyed a demigod status. He was equally feared and respected in academic circles, where his shrewd observations and pointed comments would often be the object of anxiety for many speakers. In his later years, he became an insightful contributor to the evolving field of dermatopathology, as eloquently attested to by his famous disciple, A. Bernard Ackerman (2).

To those who knew him and had the privilege of being closely associated with him, Ark represented the best in pathology: knowledge, professional honesty, and humility. He often stunned those around him with his brilliant diagnoses merely by applying his eyes to the microscope. It is the spirit of Arkadi M. Rywlin that is being celebrated in each of the AMR Seminars. It would be a shame if the wonderful teaching material contained in these exercises were restricted only to club members. It is for this reason that we are now making them available to the broader public through the pages of this journal.

The Editorial Board and Club members have considered how best to publish the free-ranging comments that characterize the Club without inhibiting the future expression of Members' opinions. We have resolved to list the comments anonymously, although each comment has been approved for publication by its author. We believe that the members' candid views and uninhibited critical approach to the cases will impart an unusual practical dimension and set this teaching exercise apart from ordinary case reports. After the comments by Club members, the various opinions and literature are reviewed and the paper concludes with a summary of the distilled essence of the case. We hope you will enjoy the section and become inspired by the spirit of Ark Rywlin as you leaf through the pages.


1. Rywlin AM. Histopathology of the bone marrow. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1976.
2. Ackerman, AB. In Memoriam: Arkadi M. Rywlin, M.D. July 27, 1923–August 22, 1987. Am J Dermatopathol 1989;11:375–83.
© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.