Education is His Passion

By Lynn McCain | January 19

Mirza, Kamran sq 500_.jpgAs demonstrated by our National Champion Michigan Wolverine Football team, the value of adding key players to the team can generate excitement, enhance overall performance, and lead to unprecedented victories. The same is true in Pathology. The Department of Pathology recently added a key player to its team who is creating quite a stir, Dr. Kamran Mirza, Professor, Assistant Chair for Education and Director of the Division of Education Programs. Mirza was recruited to Michigan Medicine’s Department of Pathology from Loyola University, where he served as the Vice Chair of Education and Academic Affairs and Assistant Dean of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

Born in Pakistan, Mirza grew up in the UK before returning to Pakistan as a teenager. While Mirza is from a two-physician-parent household, becoming a physician was not fore-ordained. In fact, his parents encouraged him to pursue other professions. “I always enjoyed art. I would paint and sketch and really enjoyed architecture. I helped draw up the floorplans for my parents’ house in Pakistan,” recalled Mirza. “I applied to both art school and medical school, thinking I would not get into both, but I did. Then I realized that art was more of a hobby to me, and I may not enjoy it as much as a profession. So, I chose to attend medical school.” Mirza attended Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, where he met his wife, Sara. After graduation, they married and relocated to the United States for residency and fellowship training.

While his wife completed her residency training in Chicago, Mirza pursued a PhD in vascular biology. “All of our professional existence in the United States has been in Chicago. I did AP/CP residency, hematopathology fellowship and MERITS (medical education, research, innovation, teaching, and scholarship) fellowship, followed by a thoracic pathology fellowship at the University of Chicago.” Upon completion of their training, Mirza took a faculty position at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in hematopathology and medical education.

“I never had an ‘Aha’ moment where I discovered Pathology. In medical school, as I went through my rotations, I found I enjoyed all of them,” Mirza explained. He added that he has a bit of a rebel in him, and Pathology is not traditionally an obvious path in medical school, so he wanted to check it out. “I shadowed some pathologists and did some pathology experiences. I fell in love with it.” One of the appeals of pathology is that it is truly an art form. The images under the microscope can be beautiful. “I credit one of my pathology mentors for really opening my eyes to how beautiful is every small part of human pathology. Dr. John Anastasi opened my eyes to the beauty of the hematopoietic system. That is my inspiration story.”

When COVID caused interruptions in residency and pathology training, he and a colleague, Dr. Cullen Lilley, founded, a highly successful web-based education platform in pathology with more than 150,000 users across the globe and more than 2 million views to date. One of his goals is to “make sure that access to education is equitable in resource poor countries. I am very proud of this website and knowing that there are people across the world who are using the resources that we put out there, nothing can beat that. That gives me great professional joy.”

Over the past eight years, Mirza has made a name for himself in medical education. He is the recipient of several national awards for education and an inaugural member of the Academy of Educators through the Association of Pathology Chairs. He is the current Chair of the Central Group of Education Affairs (CGEA), and a member of the APC UMEDs council.

Coming to Michigan, Mirza will be leading the educational efforts in Pathology for all learners, whether they are undergraduate students, graduate students, Allied Health students, residents, fellows, or faculty. “I want Michigan to solidify its position as the number one pathology education program in the state, and continue to be a global leader in all aspects of pathology and laboratory education. I’m hoping to be the glue that puts all our programs together under one fabric of the Division of Education Programs and then to broadcast what an incredible program we have at Michigan Medicine Pathology!” Mirza’s extensive social media background and presence (X: @Kmirza; Instagram, Threads, TikTok: @kampathdoc) will help him achieve this goal. “Our faculty are so used to being in an environment of excellence that they don’t even recognize how exceptional they are. We need to tell people what is happening here and I am happy to champion putting this message on a megaphone.”

Beyond his work in education and hematopathology, and beyond his social media presence and even his website, the one thing that brings him the greatest professional joy “is seeing a resident, a fellow, or a junior faculty that I have mentored win an award or some recognition. That is singularly one of the most satisfying things professionally. On the personal front, being able to go home to my family each evening is the best part of my day. There can be no bad day when I go home to these four women in my life, my wife and my three girls. I am just so very lucky to have them with me on my journey.”

Please join us in giving Dr. Kamran Mirza a warm welcome to the Department of Pathology.