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2 Minutes with...David P. Frishberg M.D.

2 Minutes with...David P. Frishberg, M.D.

David Frishberg, M.D., is a relative newcomer to Cedars-Sinai, having joined the medical center in the dual roles of director of Surgical Pathology and director of Dermatopathology in August 2006.

A 12-year U.S. Army medical officer, Dr. Frishberg began his career in pathology at Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and later served as Chief of Anatomic Pathology Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He comes to Cedars-Sinai from the Lifebridge Health System in Baltimore, where he served as Chief of Pathology.

Now that you're here in L.A., aren't you more concerned about skin cancer than you were in Baltimore?

No, I don't get out in the sun enough!

With increased global travel - particularly in and out of LAX - are you seeing more exotic skin pathologies here?

We are seeing more interesting and unusual cases at Cedars-Sinai, but I think it's because our practice is growing.

Why did you choose your specialty?

While I was serving as an army pathologist in Fort Knox, my commanding officer was a former pathologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC, and he encouraged me to apply for a fellowship there. Dermatopathology incorporates a lot of facets of general surgical pathology, so I applied for a dermatopathology fellowship and was accepted.

Why did you eventually decide to leave the army?

After three years at Walter Reed, I had pretty much done everything I wanted to do, and to stay would have meant being promoted into a purely administrative position. What I missed in private practice was teaching pathology residents. More than anything at Cedars-Sinai, I enjoy the academic environment and teaching.

What is it about teaching that you find so rewarding?

Technically, it forces you to critically examine your reasons for how you handle a case and thereby improve your practice. Intellectually, I have always been interested in cognitive psychology. Teaching a visual skill like diagnostic pathology is an ongoing challenge and a fascination.

In addition, I have always had great respect for my teachers and mentors. Doing my best to teach young physicians how to be better pathologists and better doctors helps to pay back the debt I owe.

What is the single most important lesson you learned from your Army career?

Mission first. Then team. Later me.

You can reach Dr. Frishberg in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at David.Frishberg@cshs.org.