Dr. Rodney Smith "Rod" Markin, M.D., Ph.D., (born 1956) is an American pioneer and leading authority in the field of laboratory automation. In 1993, he designed and created one of the world's first automated clinical laboratory specimen, device and analyzer management systems. In the mid-1990s, he chaired a standards group called the Clinical Testing Automation Standards Steering Committee (CTASSC) of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, which later evolved into an area committee of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute.
A hepatic, gastro-intestinal and solid-organ transplant pathologist by training, Markin continues to be a leading researcher in the field of clinical systems automation. Currently, he is the associate vice chancellor for business development and chief technology officer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and serves as the David T. Purtilo Professor in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology in UNMC's College of Medicine. Prior to his current position, he was the interim dean of the UNMC College of Medicine, board chairman and president and CEO of the Nebraska Medicine clinical practice plan, an academic medical practice which includes more than 500 physicians, and has held several other administrative and academic positions at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Markin serves on the boards of Children's Foundation Omaha, the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), Make-a-Wish Foundation, Trovagene Inc. (TROV), PerceptiMed and Prairie Ventures. He also has served on the board of Children's Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha, The Nebraska Medical Center (now Nebraska Medicine), University Medical Associates/UNMC Physicians (now part of Nebraska Medicine), Transgenomic Inc. (TBIO) and MediNotes.
Markin was born and raised in Lincoln; he received a bachelor of science degree in 1977 from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he majored in chemistry with a minor in mathematics and physics. He received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1980; he earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in 1983; he completed his residency in pathology and laboratory medicine at UNMC in 1986. He has been on the UNMC faculty since 1986. His professional and academic research interests have focused on clinical laboratory automation including robotics, information systems, medical utilization management, business efficiency modeling, adult and pediatric pathology, liver/gastrointestinal pathology, telehealth, telemedicine, technology development and mobile health.
Laboratory automation development
Markin's interest in laboratory automation, blending clinical processes with information technology, began during his graduate studies, which focused on graph theory. By 1989, he developed a prototype system that would later allow "plug-and-play" integration of automation systems and clinical analyzers for managing and testing of patient specimens. His approach was to build an automated transport system which would allow various testing processes using commercial, off-the-shelf testing and collection systems. He didn't design the instruments, but sought an automated system to manage the testing processes, leading to increased efficiency, improved reporting and lower laboratory costs.
He founded LAB-InterLink in 1993, and commercialized a system to manage clinical specimens using an automated transportation system and specimen processing devices (i.e. decapping devices, recapping devices, instrument or analyzer interfaces, etc.) for laboratory testing and processing. For example, the specimen would be separated using a centrifuge; the specimen container would be uncapped; the specimen would be tested as ordered by the physician; the container would be recapped; and the specimen would be stored in the event further testing is needed. Test results were provided to the physician or provider as part of the software management system.
LAB-InterLink sold automation systems in North America and internationally, and offices were set up in the United States, Canada and Israel. In 2004, the U.S. company was sold to Cardinal Health and the Canadian company was sold to an investor group. Today the technology of the U.S. company is controlled by Abbott Laboratories (2007) and the Canadian company was acquired by Cerner Corp. (2013)
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Markin was awarded the Ida Ittner Postdoctoral Fellowship studying lead toxicity in children from 1980-82, working in the laboratory of Dr. Carol R. Angle. In 2005, Markin was named the David T. Purtilo Professor of Pathology and Microbiology. Markin helped develop Children's Specialty Physicians, the pediatric practice plan for the UNMC College of Medicine at Children's Hospital & Medical Center. Markin also holds appointments in the Departments of Surgery and Psychiatry. Markin has received numerous awards and honors, the most recent of which was the Lifetime Achievement Award from UNeMed Corporation, UNMC's technology transfer office, for his innovations that have transformed the clinical laboratory.
While serving as interim dean of the UNMC College of Medicine, Markin led the college's fundraising efforts with alumni and constituents. While president of what then was known as the UNMC Physicians practice plan, Markin led faculty fundraising to help build the Michael F. Sorrell Center for the College of Medicine.
Markin continues daily work as a pathologist, with about half of his time dedicated to pediatric cases. He also leads the telehealth initiative of UNMC and Nebraska Medicine. Since 2011, he has served as associate vice chancellor for business development and as chief technology officer. In October 2005, the U.S. Defense Department provided a grant to Markin and his team to design a new method for microbiology automation. Known as the Microbiology Automation Research Project, or "MARP," the project is designed to develop a broad platform that can be used in the clinical laboratory, including applications for bacteriology, mycology and virology. Additionally, the project has potential uses for other applications, including bioterrorism testing, and holds significant promise for the civilian sector. Markin holds several patents, and has written numerous industry articles on laboratory automation. In 2000, he co-authored an article which provided a history of laboratory automation. He is a member of the editorial boards of several industry publications, including the Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation (JALA).
Personal and family
Markin lives in Omaha; he has two grown sons. In his free time, he enjoys his horses, working with wood, metal and plastics; gardening; traveling and photography. Markin and his family supported Children's Hospital & Medical Center to help build a pediatric outpatient clinic. The hospital's specialty pavilion lobby was named in honor of his late wife, Annette, who died in 2011 of pulmonary hypertension.
- College of American Pathologists, CAP Today magazine, June 2002
- LIM Source, a laboratory information management systems resource
- Clinical Chemistry 46, No. 5, 2000, pgs. 246-250
- Health Management Technology magazine, October 1, 1995
- Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (formerly NCCLS)
- UNMC College of Medicine.
- Nebraska Medicine (about)
- LAB-InterLink Canada
- UNMC PathologyNewsletter, 2005
- UNMC Today, Nov. 4, 2002
- Clinical Lab Management Association's Clinical Lab Management Review, May-June 1998
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Clinical Chemistry magazine, 46, pgs. 764-771
- Editorial Board, Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation