A research paper detailing autopsies from COVID mortalities was honored with the Billingham Award from the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology.

The article, “The emerging spectrum of cardiopulmonary pathology of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Report of 3 autopsies from Houston, Texas, and review of autopsy findings from other United States cities”1 was authored by L. Maximilian Buja, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Dwayne Wolf, MD, PhD, Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences; Bihong Zhao, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Bindu Akkanti, MD, Department of Internal Medicine; Michelle McDonald, DO, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Laura Lelenwa, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Noah Reilly, DO, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Giulia, Ottaviani, MD, PhD, University of Milan; M. Tarek Elghetany, MD, Baylor College of Medicine; Daniel Ocazionez-Trujillo, MD, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging; Gabriel Aisenberg, MD, Department of Internal Medicine; Mohammad Madjid, MD, MS, Department of Internal Medicine; and Biswajit Kar, MD,  Center for Advanced Cardiopulmonary Therapies and Transplantation.

The paper, originally published in Cardiovascular Pathology in April 2020, reviews the pathological findings from autopsy reports of 23 COVID-19 patients from five centers across the United States, including three cases in Houston. It concludes that COVID-19 is “a systemic disease with major involvement of the lungs and heart. Acute COVID-19 pneumonia has features of a distinctive acute interstitial pneumonia with a diffuse alveolar damage component, coupled with microvascular involvement with intra-and extravascular fibrin deposition and intravascular trapping of neutrophils, and frequently, with formation of microthrombi in arterioles.”

The Billingham Award-Winning Manuscripts are selected by the Publications Committee of the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology, recognizing the best review and original papers published in the past year in Cardiovascular Pathology.  The best review paper was “Myocarditis” somethings old and something new”2 from Drs. Dana Razzano and Jay Fallon. The award is named in honor of Dr. Margaret Billingham, a cardiovascular pathologist and pioneer in cardiac transplant pathology.

“Our publication was one of the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of pathological changes in severe COVID-19 infection,” said Buja, lead author of the paper and professor of pathology.  “It has subsequently been cited nearly 200 times on Google Scholar and recognized as a highly cited paper and hot paper by Clarivate Web of Science.”

The team has performed more than 50 autopsies on COVID-19 patients at its hospital-based autopsy service, and over 50 autopsies on COVID-19 patients also have been performed at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

“We have submitted some of these cases for inclusion in the large multi-institutional autopsy survey study published by the COVID-19 autopsy interest group. We also have presented our findings in 34 subjects at the recent meeting of the US and Canadian Academy of Pathology,” he added.

The authors were formally recognized at the annual meeting of the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology March 13. Each manuscript will be republished in Cardiovascular Pathology with a commentary from the authors.

1Buja LM, Wolf DA, Zhao B, Akkanti B, McDonald M, Lelenwa L, Reilly N, Ottaviani G, Elghetany MT, Trujillo DO, Aisenberg GM, Madjid M, Kar B. The emerging spectrum of cardiopulmonary pathology of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Report of 3 autopsies from Houston, Texas, and review of autopsy findings from other United States cities. Cardiovasc Pathol. 2020 Sep-Oct;48:107233. doi: 10.1016/j.carpath.2020.107233. Epub 2020 May 7.

2Razzano D, Fallon JT. Myocarditis: somethings old and something new. Cardiovasc Pathol. 2020 Jan-Feb;44:107155. doi: 10.1016/j.carpath.2019.107155. Epub 2019 Oct 10.