Dr. Patrick Buckley Retires, Named Professor Emeritus

On Feb. 2nd, 2024, Professor of Pathology Patrick J. Buckley, MD, PhD, retired from his position and was named professor emeritus. Buckley’s distinguished career with Duke Pathology spanned 25 years, during which he served as director of Duke’s Division of Hematopathology from 1999-2014. He also served as medical director of the Hematology Laboratories for the Duke University Cancer Center and Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit from 1999-2014, and of the Clinical Flow Cytometry Laboratory from 1999-2003.  

“Dr. Buckley has had a career of great distinction at Duke,” said David N. Howell, MD, PhD. Perhaps his most important contribution has been in the area of education. His interactions with coworkers and trainees have invariably been informed by high ethical standards, professionalism, and great empathy and kindness.”

He served as director of Duke’s Hematopathology Fellowship Program from 1999-2012, and from 2000-2012 he fulfilled the formidable responsibility of director of our Residency Training Program in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. In 2009, he was named vice chair for Education in the Department of Pathology, a position he held until stepping down as residency director in 2012. 

Buckley used creative methods when teaching that weren’t always well-received on the first try. For example, when he was on the Hematopathology case sign-out service, he required the residents and fellows to run the microscope while presenting their cases. His rationale was for them to learn how to present the cases quickly and convincingly support their diagnoses.

“Some of the trainees complained about this approach, but they improved over time,” said Buckley. “I remember that one of my former trainees contacted me and said she hated having to present cases that way, but after working a few years she thanked me and said she was ‘really glad she had to do it,’ and now requires her trainees do the same thing.”

Dr. Patrick Buckley (right) with his wife, Judy, with their Morgan British roadster
Dr. Patrick Buckley (right) with his wife, Judy, with their Morgan British roadster

He has also been a constant source of encouragement for Duke medical students considering careers in Pathology. From 2002-2009, he was director of the Pathology Study Program for third-year medical students, and in 2001, he founded a two-week selective rotation for second-year medical students titled “Pathology 220C – What Does a Pathologist Really Do?” for which he served as director until his retirement. In addition to these roles, he also authored 65 peer-reviewed journal articles. 

“I feel very fortunate to have had Pat as my attending, program director, mentor, colleague, and friend,” said Jennifer Crow, MD, Department of Pathology Chair at Texas Health Huguley Hospital, and pathologist with Texas Health Mansfield. She was a Duke Hematopathology fellow from 2009-2010, and an assistant professor with Duke Pathology from 2010-2015.

“He taught us hematopathology, and he taught us how to teach (Is it pink or is it blue?).  He also taught us (with help from Judy, about bicycle trips to Italy and driving adventures in their Morgan British roadster) how important it is to be more than just a pathologist.  I know he will be missed (as I still miss him). I’m glad he is being celebrated - it is well-deserved!”

The Journey to Duke

Prior to joining Duke, Buckley held various positions at the University of Wisconsin in Madison during his seven-year career there, including Hematopathology Division director; medical director of the Flow Cytometry and Immuno-Histochemistry Laboratories; and director of both the Hematopathology Fellowship and Residency Programs.

“One day in early 1999, I was looking at ads for potential jobs for my Hematopathology fellow and came across an ad for a ‘senior’ hematopathologist at Duke,” recalled Buckley. “Since the vast majority of such jobs are for “junior” positions, out of curiosity, I decided to give Duke a call. I spoke with Dr. Stanley Robboy, who was on the search committee. He told me Duke had been looking for a chief of Hematopathology for some time and suggested that I visit Duke. It turned out that Duke Pathology also needed a medical director for the Flow Cytometry Lab AND a director for the Pathology Residency Program. I visited in mid-February, it was 70 degrees in Durham and much colder in Wisconsin.  It also turned out that Duke agreed to offer my former hematopathology fellow, Anand Lagoo, MD, PhD, a position as well. The rest is history.”

His Research

Buckley focused primarily on three areas of research:

  1. The immunobiology of human tissue macrophages (histiocytes). He had notable studies on this subject that consisted of publications describing variations in immunophenotypes of human macrophages in different tissues.
  2. The use of morphology, flow cytometry, cytogenetics, molecular techniques, and analysis of cell products to study the diagnosis, classification, and biological features of lymphoid and myeloid neoplasms (lymphoma/leukemia) in adults and children.
  3. The investigation of new strategies for educating residents for careers in anatomic pathology and laboratory medicine.

Personal History

Buckley was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the oldest of eight children (five girls, three boys) and grew up there and in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He and his wife, Judy, have three children and six grandchildren.

“Some of our faculty may remember how Judy orchestrated numerous picnics and parties at our home for faculty, residents and their children while I was the residency program director,” said Buckley. “Judy is a terrific person and my best friend.”

He shared the interesting fact that their neighborhood, Piney Mountain, once had four pathologists living there at the same time: a neuropathologist, a hematopathologist, a veterinary pathologist and forensic pathologist. Three of them worked at Duke, including Associate Professor Anne Buckley, MD, PhD.

Dr. Patrick Buckley (left) with his son, Ben.
Dr. Patrick Buckley (left) with his son, Ben.

A Life-Long Passion for Cycling

Buckley has been an avid road cyclist and bike commuter nearly his entire career, since he started as an attending pathologist at Yale University in 1984.

“My passion for years was amateur bicycle road racing,” he said. “I raced for teams in New Haven, Connecticut, and Madison, Wisconsin. I met Judy on a bicycle club ride. She was a long-distance cyclist (e.g., she rode from Maine to Florida and has completed many 100-mile rides).

Judy and I have cycled numerous times in France, Italy, and Spain, including following the route of the Camino de Santiago (a 600-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain) on a tandem bicycle.”


Patrick and Judy Buckley at Tour de France landmark climb, Alpe d'Huez
Patrick and Judy Buckley at Tour de France landmark climb, Alpe d'Huez

Plans for retirement

Buckley hopes to continue cycling, swimming, and hiking trails with Judy for many years to come. He sees lots of visits with their children and grandchildren, who are in Massachusetts, Texas, and Arizona, on the horizon as well.

“We plan to travel and plan to visit parts of our own country we haven’t seen as well as travel overseas,” said Buckley. “Judy, however, has made me promise that we go without bicycles since she’s ‘tired of staring at the road’.”

We certainly hope he visits the halls of Duke Pathology as well, and are grateful to have had him as an integral part of the department for so many years.