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May 19, 1989

AFIP:Pathology Laboratory to the World

JAMA. 1989;261(19):2807-2810. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420190077018

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THERE ARE 2700 BRAINS at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). Seven hundred are engaged in running the institute; 2000 are sectioned and mounted.

The 125 pathologists and their 575 staff associates at the Walter Reed-based facility are entrusted with the Yakovlev Collection, the world's largest collection of serially sectioned human brains. But that's only one facet of their job. They oversee 2 200 000 case reports that have accumulated since the institute was established; they account for 350 publications in the scientific literature annually; they handle 350 consultations each day; they spend 60 000 person-days a year training pathologists; and they administrate an annual budget of more than $35 million.

If the Smithsonian Institution is the nation's attic, the AFIP may be considered its morgue. Its role as such dates to the inception of its antecedent, The Army Medical Museum, in 1862. That institution was born of a