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Greenville, NC — Yaolin Zhou, MD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, director of Quality and Test Utilization, and head of Molecular Pathology at ECU Health, was named to the 2023 Becker’s Hospital Review “Emerging Leaders: Provider Organization Leaders Under 40” list.

The Becker’s Hospital Review list recognizes up-and-coming leaders who are quickly rising through the ranks at their organizations, focusing on development, innovation, and improved outcomes.

The “Emerging Leaders: Provider Organization Leaders Under 40” list honors leaders who are 40 years old or younger for their commitment to optimizing health care. The Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team accepted nominations for this list and curated it to highlight the accomplishments of these rising stars.

Dr. Yaolin Zhou makes notes during an examination of a sample.

Dr. Zhou trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world and chose to come to ECU Health to help address some of the most challenging problems in health care delivery. As the only molecular pathologist in ECU Health’s 29-county service area, she provides expertise that benefits more than 1.4 million individuals in the region.

“ECU Health is proud to have Dr. Zhou, a nationally recognized molecular test utilization expert, whose work exemplifies the vital connection between research, education and effective health care delivery,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, ECU Health CEO and dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “Dr. Zhou’s expertise shapes innovative clinical solutions, addressing unique barriers in rural populations. I am grateful for leaders like Dr. Zhou who are helping to create a healthier present and future for eastern North Carolina.”

Since her arrival in 2020, Dr. Zhou established an innovative molecular consultation service, focused primarily on pre- and post-testing review, to ensure cancer patients receive appropriate molecular tests and treatment. In 2023, she secured a $250,000 industry-funded quality improvement grant to expand her molecular consultation services across practices in eastern North Carolina’s rural 29-county region. This grant aims to identify and address health care disparities in cancer care, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

In addition to her molecular expertise, Dr. Zhou is an internationally recognized quality improvement and test utilization expert. In 2020, she partnered with clinical colleagues to establish a health system-wide initiative to reduce daily repeat lab tests, achieving a 15 to 25 percent reduction in unnecessary repeat daily testing throughout the system. For this multi-specialty and multi-disciplinary collaboration, Dr. Zhou and her team were honored with the prestigious American Society for Clinical Pathology Choosing Wisely Champion Award.

Dr. Zhou is active as a teaching and clinical faculty member and a bioethics and quality improvement instructor at Brody and for ECU Health. She also represents eastern North Carolina on the board of directors for the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), the world’s largest association for molecular professionals. Dr. Zhou recently authored an invited guest editorial in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, the official AMP journal. This editorial, based on her grant work, presents a national solution to reduce barriers in precision oncology.

“As a cancer survivor myself, I strive to bring quality and equitable cancer care to those I am honored to serve,” said Dr. Zhou. “All patients deserve high-quality and guideline-recommended cancer treatment. Through this recognition, I hope we can bring greater visibility to how we are addressing disparities in cancer care in our patients. Through collaborative efforts, we can develop solutions for providing equitable cancer care on a broader scale – and it starts here in eastern North Carolina.”