Director, BWH Program in Dermatopathology
Chief, BWH Dermatopathology Clinical Service
Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Principal Investigator, The Murphy Lab
Dr. George F. Murphy
In 2004, Dr. Murphy became the Chief of the BWH Program in Dermatopathology, which encompasses a hospital-based clinical practice and training program, complemented by research labs. Dr. Murphy is Principal Investigator of The Murphy Research Lab and Director of two cores operating there: the HSDRC Morphology and Cell Analysis Core for basic skin pathology research, and the Skin SPORE Biospecimen Access and Analysis Core for clinical dermatopathology research.
Dr. Murphy supervises several research projects and collaborations, and he has hundreds of publications to his name. Currently, he is leading efforts in translational dermatopathology under his Six Pillars initiative.
Dr. Murphy works routinely as a clinical dermatopathologist at BWH. Dr. Murphy is also a Professor of Pathology at the Harvard Medical School; he is involved with teaching both medical students and Harvard Dermatopathology fellows. With over twenty-seven years of experience in dermatopathology research and teaching, Dr. Murphy has inspired many aspiring dermatopathologists to pursue careers in academia, where they, too, can research, teach, and publish.
Dr. Murphy has focused his career on the development of the discipline of academic dermatopathology. As such, he has been involved in the initiation and development of programs for diagnostic, research, and educational excellence in this subspecialty. As Director of Dermatopathology Programs at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University, and Harvard Medical School, he has devoted approximately equal yet integrated components of his efforts to teaching, research, clinical service, and administration.
Achievements in the fields of academic dermatopathology may therefore be divided into those dealing with investigation, educational leadership, and clinical expertise, and innovation. With respect to investigation, Dr. Murphy’s program in funded basic investigation has been ongoing continuously since 1984 in the form of R01 grants and via participation in Program Project, SPORE, and SDRC initiatives. The current focus of Dr. Murphy's research is elucidation of thecellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for cutaneous cytotoxic reactions, including graft-versus-host disease subsequent to allogeneic stem celltransplantation for childhood and adult leukemia/lymphoma. In addition, a major collaboration involving Brigham Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the MIT Biomaterials Department focuses on tissue stem cell biology andcutaneous regenerative medicine. A third and growing area of focus is melanoma stem cell biology. Dr. Murphy also serves as the Director of the Tissue and Cell Analysis Core for the Harvard Skin Disease Research Center(SDRC) as well as for the Biospecimen Access and Analysis Core for the Harvard Specialized Program for Research Excellence (SPORE) in skin cancer. For research contributions concerning Langerhans cell histiocytosis, he received the Benjamin Castleman Award of the International Academy of Pathology. In 1991, he was elected into the American Society for Clinical Investigation for which he also served as an Institutional Representative. His work in the area of neuropeptide regulation of Langerhans cell function was recognized as one of the 50 most significant scientific breakthroughs worldwide for the year 1993 by the magazine, Discover. His most recent collaborative interaction with the laboratory of Dr. Markus Frank of Boston’s Children’s Hospital has recently fostered the first biomarker identification and therapeutically relevant targeting of melanoma stem cells (January 2008 cover article, Nature). He has served as a regular term member of the General Medicine A Study Section for the NIH.
Educational leadership is perhaps first evidenced when Dr. Murphy worked with Dr. George Diamondopoulos in the early 1980's to introduce a 'mini-CPC' teaching format to the Pathology curriculum at Harvard Medical School. At Penn, he served as Director of the Dermatopathology Fellowship Program and member of the Medical School’s Committee on Appointments and Promotions, established a national CME course in dermatopathology, and received the Medical School’s Class of 1995 Teaching Award. At Jefferson, he served as Director for Medical Education in Pathology, Vice Chair for Education in Pathology, and the Chair of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions. In the latter capacity, he co-led a successful effort to introduce a new Scholar-Educator Track where academic advancement was evaluated principally through contributions to student, resident, peer, and public medical education. At all institutions where he has served as a faculty member, there has been regular and active participation in medical school, resident/fellowship, and CME teaching in Pathology and Dermatopathology. He has trained dozens of diagnosticians and basic investigators, and currently serves as a mentor for Harvard’s Scholars in Clinical Science Program. At a national level, he has served as past president of the American Society of Dermatopathology. For the past four editions, he has been the lead author of the chapter, “The Skin” in Robbins' Pathologic Basis of Disease. In addition to fifteen books and monographs already authored or edited, he serves as co-author of the 3rd and 4th editions of the AFIP/UAREP Fascicles, Atlas of Tumor Pathology: Melanocytic Tumors of the Skin, the 3rd edition of Non-melanocytic Tumors of the Skin, as well as co-editor and multiple chapter co-author for the last several editions of the standard text in dermatopathology, Lever’s Histopathology of the Skin,
Finally, in the area of clinical expertise and innovation, Dr. George F. Murphy received residency and fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital in anatomic pathology and dermatopathology, respectively. He established the first Dermatopathology Service at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1982, serving as the director until 1987, at which time he was recruited to become director of the Dermatopathology Division and Fellowship Program and director of Dermatopathology Research at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, he was the first recipient of the Herman Beerman endowed chair in Dermatology. In1996 he joined Jefferson Medical College’s Department of Pathology to establish what became the Jefferson Center for Dermatopathology, the Institution’s first academic dermatopathology program to combine service and education with federally funded basic research. In April 2004, Dr. Murphy re-assumed the directorship of the Division of Dermatopathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and became Professor of Pathology at the Harvard Medical School. There he modified the existing service to form the BWH Program in Dermatopathology, combining expanded diagnostic and didactic services with complementary NIH-funded research laboratories.
Dr. Murphy’s career has been dedicated to the growth and development of the facet of cutaneous pathology best referred to as ‘academic dermatopathology’. This critically important discipline combines diagnostic and investigative pathology of the skin in a manner whereby translationally important advances in the early diagnosis (prevention) and therapeutic intervention for diseases such as malignant melanoma are now possible. The development of the discipline of academic dermatopathology has spawned a model for mentorship that will perpetuate this field. Cultivation of interdepartmental and interinstitutional interactions with the Dermatopathology Program have served as a paradigm for how academic dermatopathology may catalyze and synergize with disciplines as diverse as immunology, regenerative medicine, neurobiology, and stem cell science.