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Dr. Maria J. Merino

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1950

Medical School

Central University of Venezuela



Career Path

Diagnostic and therapeutic services: Anatomic pathology
Dr. Maria J. Merino


I became a doctor to be of help to others; to understand diseases and how to conquer them; to follow the good role models I had in my life.


Maria J. Merino, M.D., chief of the Surgical Pathology Section of the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research, is internationally recognized for her work in anatomic pathology.

Born in Valladolid, Spain, in 1950, Maria Merino's parents moved to Venezuela when she was still a young child. She earned her undergraduate degree at Merici Academy in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1966 and received her doctor of medicine degree from Central University of Venezuela in 1974. In 1974, she moved to the United States to complete a residency in pathology at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, where she was also chief resident in pathology from 1977 to 1978. She completed her fellowship in surgical pathology at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1979, the same year that she married Ronald D. Neumann, M.D.

Following a series of pathology teaching positions at Yale University School of Medicine and consultancies in surgical pathology at several Connecticut hospitals, Dr. Merino was appointed director of gynecologic pathology at Yale University in 1982. She came to the National Cancer Institute as senior medical officer and assistant chief of its Pathology and Postmortem Sections in 1985, assuming her post as chief of the Surgical Pathology Section and director of the Histology Lab in 1987.

Dr. Merino's has researched how different tumor markers can be used to diagnose breast, gynecological, and thyroid cancers, and other tumors. Along with her colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, she is working on identifying tumor suppressor genes in pre-malignant lesions of the breast, to see how they affect the development of breast cancer.

Dr. Merino is a member of the National Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Think Tank Task Force, and the Scientific Committee of Spain's Hispanicoamerican Congress of Anatomic Pathology, the American Society of Directors of Anatomic Pathology, the International Academy of Pathology, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, and the International Society of Gynecological Pathologists. She will serve as treasurer of the Arthur Purdy Stout Society of Surgical Pathologists through 2005.

In addition to serving on numerous editorial boards and as a reviewer for several professional medical journals, Dr. Merino authored more than 250 journal articles and dozens of book chapters.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

I truly didn't have important obstacles. I had a supportive family that believed I could do it. There was however, a difficult time—coming to this country in search of better training without command of the language.

How do I make a difference?

I try to do the best at my job, so proper treatment and care is given to the patients. I train new pathologists and try to give them a sense of how important they are to all patients.

Who was my mentor?

My mentor was Dr. Daryl Carter, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

How has my career evolved over time?

Over time, my experience has made me more conscientious of how important it is not only to be a good doctor, but also a kind and caring one.