Robert McKenna, MD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Robert McKenna

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-624-2637

Mailing Address:
MMC 609 Mayo
420 Delaware SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor Emeritus, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology


University of Minnesota, 1966

University of California, San Diego, Internship, 1966-1967

University of Minnesota, Residency (Anatomical and Clinical Pathology), 1969-1973

University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN (Biology and Chemistry), 1962


Dr. McKenna is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Vice-Chair for Education. As a hematopathologist who has conducted research in the field over four decades, he employs current laboratory techniques to improve clinical capabilities for diagnosing and classifying hematologic diseases including leukemias and lymphomas. The goal of his research is to contribute to advances in diagnostics, classification, and understanding of the pathobiology of these diseases through a variety of methods. Among the methods are traditional cell morphological analysis, immunophenotyping, flow cytometry, and more recently molecular genetics. Advances in diagnosis and classification using these methods can help guide clinicians in choosing the optimal course of treatment for patients.

Recently McKenna has collaborated in research studies ranging from characterization of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias with aberrant immunophenotypes to cases of Langerhans cell histiocytosis in acute leukemias to post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders involving Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Some patients develop lymphoproliferative disease following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or organ transplantation. Most of these cases involve EBV infection. McKenna and his colleagues identified patients with EBV-positive mucocutaneous ulcer (MCU), lesions that occur in the skin, oral cavity, or gastrointestinal tract. They suggest that MCU may warrant consideration as a distinct category in the classification of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders.

Awards & Recognition

  • Distinguished Service Award, American Society of Clinical Pathologists 1989
  • John Childers Professor of Pathology 1990 to 1998
  • President, Society For Hematopathology 1992-94
  • Best Doctors in America. Naifehs S and Smith GW, Woodward White Publisher. 1992 - 2006
  • Vernie A. Stembridge Resident Education Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 1993 to 1994
  • President, American Society of Clinical Pathologists 1996-97
  • Charles C. Sprague Chair in Medical Science 1998 to 2000
  • Vernie A. Stembridge Distinguished Chair in Pathology 2000 to present
  • University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award 2000
  • American Society of Clinical Pathologists Ward Burdick Award for Distinguished Service to Clinical Pathology 2000
  • American Association of Clinical Chemistry Outstanding Speaker Award 2000
  • Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA)—Faculty 2002
  • America’s Top Physicians—Consumers’ Research Council of America
  • Secretary, American Board of Pathology 2006
  • Texas Medical Association-Resident and Fellow Section J. T. “Lamar” McNew Award for outstanding service to residents and fellows 2006



  • Yohe S, Chenault C, Torlakovic E, Asplund S, McKenna RW. Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis in Acute Leukemias of Ambiguous or Myeloid Lineage in Adult Patients: support for a possible clonal relationship. Mod Pathol; 27: 651-656, 2014.
  • Hart M, Thakral B, Yohe S, Balfour HH, Singh C, Spears M, McKenna RW. EBV-Positive Mucocutaneous Ulcer in Organ Transplant Recipients: A Localized Indolent Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder. Am J Surg Pathol. 38: 1522-9, 2014.
  • Tasso, David M.; Dunning, Karla K.; McKenna, Robert W.; Pambuccian, Stefan E. Erythroblastosis in the peritoneal fluid of a newborn. Diagnostic Cytopathology; 41(5): 431-433, 2013.
  • Takahashi, Takao; Shivapurkar, Narayan M.; Reddy, Jyotsna L.; Shigematsu, Hisayuki; Miyajima, Kuniharu; Suzuki, Makoto; Toyooka, Shinichi; Zöchbauer-Müller, Sabine; Drach, Johannes W.; Parikh, Gunjan; Zheng, Yingye; Feng, Ziding; Kroft, Steven H.; Timmons, Charles F.; McKenna, Robert W.; Gazdar, Adi F.Retraction: DNA methylation profiles of lymphoid and hematopoietic. Malignancies. Clinical Cancer Research 19(1):307,2013.
  • Hart, Melissa K.; Conway, Andrea B.; Cioc, Adina M.; McKenna, Robert W.; Pambuccian, Stefan E. Butterfly-shaped nuclei in cerebrospinal fluid relapse of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Diagnostic Cytopathology 40(11): 987-990, 2012.
  • Mettler, Tetyana N.; Cioc, Adina M.; Singleton, Timothy P.; McKenna, Robert W.; Pambuccian, Stefan E. Pleural primary effusion lymphoma in an elderly patient. Diagnostic Cytopathology 40(10): 903-905, 2012.
  • Mettler, Tetyana N.; Holman, Carol J.; McKenna, Robert W.; Pambuccian, Stefan E. Plasmablastic myeloma in ascitic fluid. Diagnostic Cytopathology 40(9): 806-809, 2012.
  • Tasso, David M.; Gulbahce, H. Evin; Berger, Michael J.; McKenna, Robert W.; Pambuccian, Stefan E. Intracytoplasmic crystalline and globular inclusions in small lymphocytic lymphoma in transformation. Diagnostic Cytopathology 18(1): 42-62, 2012.



  • Hematopathology