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Therese Ansman: Vacuum Infiltrator

March is Women's History Month, and to celebrate, NSH will be showcasing some of the trailblazing women that have advanced NSH and the science of histology over the past few decades. Today we recognize Therese Ansman, who became the second woman to receive the Histotech of the Year Award in 1978, following Dezna Sheehan’s ’77 win.


Therese held a Master’s Degree and was an accomplished researcher, publishing several histology articles. One such article, "The Vacuum Infiltrator in Routine Fixation", was published in a 1972 edition of Histo-Logic, a technical bulletin for Histotechnology, of which Lee G. Luna served as editor. In this article, Therese describes the use of a vacuum infiltrator to compensate for shortened fixation time, for example when a specimen has arrived after the tissue processor has started its fixation period.


During her study, Therese compared regular samples placed in room temperature formalin, to those that were placed in the vacuum infiltrator, which contained formalin heated to 43 degrees Celsius, and subjected to vacuum for 15 minutes. The vacuum infiltrator was then used for paraffin infiltration at the end of processing, on half of the specimens. Therese found that the specimens that had been subjected to heat and vacuum for both fixation and paraffin infiltration were significantly easier to section, particularly with tough tissues. Similarly, tissue that had been vacuum infiltrated could have its fixation time reduced and still produce quality slides.

Therese also authored an article for NSH’s Journal of Histotechnology in 1986, STAT Endocardial Biopsies. Endomyocardial biopsies are performed after a heart transplant, primarily to determine whether or not the organ has been accepted or rejected. In this article, Therese lays out a process for fixation, embedding, drying and staining, that returns the results to the doctor within a few hours, allowing for proper treatment of the heart transplant recipient.


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