By Jeffrey Myers

Dr. Jonathan McHugh, Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology, was appointed A. James French Professor of Surgical Pathology by approval of the Regents of the University of Michigan in May 2021. Celebration of his professorship was delayed due to COVID-19 and his official investiture ceremony was held on January 10, 2024. This professorship was created to build on the high value our department places on our clinical mission by recognizing a senior faculty member who has made significant contributions to our department’s clinical service, research, and training programs. It comes with an endowment to support programs in surgical pathology.

Dr. McHugh came to Michigan Medicine as a resident in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology in July 2002, having received his M.D. at the University of Nebraska. It was during an elective with Dr. Jeffrey Myers in March 2006 that a plan was developed for him to do fellowship training in head and neck pathology with Leon Barnes at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to address gaps in Michigan Medicine’s increasingly subspecialized pathology services. Dr. McHugh returned to us in July 2007 as Clinical Assistant Professor followed by a joint appointment in the Department of Surgery, Section of Oral Surgery, in December 2010. He rapidly rose through the ranks and was appointed Clinical Professor in Pathology and Department of Surgery in September 2017.

McHugh Investiture Dinner 2024_01_10 graphic sm.jpgDr. McHugh has successfully addressed clinical, educational, and research needs in the pathology of the head and neck while also staffing rotations in gastrointestinal, ophthalmic, general surgical, bone and soft tissue, endocrine, and dermatopathology (direct immunofluorescence). He has also provided support for early iterations of our pediatric and perinatal/placental services. He continues to support intraoperative consultations (frozen sections) at UH/CVC, the adult practice at Mott, and ambulatory surgical centers at both East Ann Arbor and Brighton Center for Specialty Care. In creating and nurturing our head and neck pathology service, he changed the ways in which our clinical colleagues care for their patients. A surgical colleague in our Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery wrote “I have dozens of patients whose lives have been altered for the better by Jon. There is a story I tell to the residents, year after year. I was operating on a patient with desmoid fibromatosis at Mott. There was some difficulty with the margin, and we were considering aborting the procedure. We called Dr. McHugh to review the frozen sections, and he told us to keep going. He was confident that we could clear this tumor based on his review of the pathology. That was 9 years ago, almost to the day. This story is a great reminder of the excellence and skill Jon brings to his patients.”

Dr. McHugh has consistently been one of the most clinically productive members of our faculty every year since his arrival. In addition, he has proven himself a superb teacher, winning the House Officer Teaching Award in 2010. The same surgeon who testified to his gifts as a diagnostic surgical pathologist went on to say “there are few learning opportunities that stand out as much as listening to Jon teach in the frozen section room at UH hospital. A group of us would sit in the frozen section lab as Jon would effortlessly teach medical students, residents, and fellows from multiple specialties.” As a collaborative researcher, he currently supports federally funded projects that account for just over $6.2 million in grant support. As of January 10, 2024, SCOPUS lists 224 published documents and an h-index of 48. Dr. McHugh has worn several administrative hats during his career, having served as Director of Immunohistochemistry, Director of Surgical Pathology, Clerkship Director for M4 Pathology Electives, and a member of our Medical School Executive Committee. Dr. McHugh stands as a reminder that the myth of a “triple threat” in academic pathology remains a reality in our practice.

As the recently appointed A. James French Professor of Surgical Pathology, Dr. McHugh is using his endowment to support a fellowship in head and neck pathology while developing strategies to ensure that excellence in head and neck pathology is sustainable and outlives his own tenure as faculty. This newly created professorship stands alongside our A. James French professorships in Diagnostic Pathology and Anatomic Pathology, our John G. Batsakis and Henry Clay Bryant professorships, and our Godfrey D. Stobbe Professorship in Gastrointestinal Pathology as a tribute to the important contributions of clinical faculty to all our institutional and departmental missions. Please join us in congratulating Dr. McHugh on this well-deserved achievement.