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One of the things that I love about Pathology Student is our daily email called Path Bites. I started this a couple years ago with the goal of helping people keep up with pathology – whether it’s studying for boards, learning pathology in class, or just learning for the fun of it (Really! It’s fun!). We’ve gone from zero to over 5000 subscribers in just over 2 years – and I get nice comments from subscribers a lot – so I feel it’s a valuable service. I thought I’d describe it a bit in case you haven’t seen the signup box to the left – or in case you were wondering just exactly what Path Bites is.

Path Bites consists of a short email every weekday containing an important pathology pearl or two. It’s totally free, and there aren’t any ads or other annoyances – just pure pathology. I alternate between general pathology and systemic pathology topics (general pathology one day, systems path the next), working through topics in a logical fashion. I keep the emails short (so they are readable in a minute or two) and pithy (getting to the point quickly and clearly). Here are a couple recent Path Bites, one on general path (cell injury and cell death) and one on systems path (blood vessels):


Apoptosis is a unique kind of cell death that happens in a pre-programmed fashion. The apoptotic cell is basically committing suicide according to the instructions it carries in its genes. It releases enzymes that degrade its own DNA and other proteins, and its cell structure becomes altered in such a way that phagocytes see the apoptotic cell as yummy. Interesting: this phagocytosis happens before cellular contents leak out – so there’s no stimulation of the host immune response. Necrotic cells, by contrast, have massive membrane disruptions, and release their cellular contents, eliciting a host reaction.

For more information, see Robbins, page 25.

What causes Raynaud phenomenon?

Raynaud phenomenon is characterized by episodes in which fingers or toes become pale (sometimes even blue!). It’s caused by an exaggerated vasoconstriction of arteries/arterioles, and it can be primary or secondary.

    1. Primary Raynaud phenomenon happens after exposure to cold or emotional stress. It is more common in  young women, and affects about 4% of the general population.
    2. Secondary Raynaud phenomenon happens as a result of arterial disease caused by other conditions like lupus, scleroderma, Buerger disease or atherosclerosis.

Raynaud phenomenon can be the first manifestation of these other conditions…but only about 10% of patients with Raynaud phenomenon will eventually be diagnosed with an underlying disease. So don’t freak out if you have this! Most of the time it’s primary.

For more information, see Robbins, page 518.

Path Bites is valuable because it’s a relatively painless way to get a little path into your head each day. As a student, I didn’t have the discipline or the time to read through Robbins unless a test was looming…but I could definitely read through a short email each day. Over time, we end up covering a lot of ground – one fact at a time!

Here are some comments I’ve gotten by email lately:

I am a Physician Assistant student and the Path Bites emails have been extraordinarily helpful for both our Introduction to Clinical Medicine and Pathology courses.
– Brooke S, PA student

I really enjoy those path bites you send out! It’s especially great when I’m too busy studying other stuff and don’t have time to go around reading longer articles for fun. Not only is the info interesting and convenient to read, but it’s also an effective and painless way to accumulate knowledge over time (smaller portions of info = less overwhelming for brain = sticks better long term!).
– Yuko B, MLT student

I love path bites – they have helped me a lot!!! You really make pathology easy!!
– Jade O, M.D., pathology resident

I have enjoyed your site ever since I found the Path Bites and have recommended you to many of my friends and classmates.
– Henry G, med student

 I hope that gives you a good idea about what Path Bites is like. You can sign up on the left of this page, at the top. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!