Revolution in dermatology has strong ties to Boston

Destination BostonBoston is linked so closely to the American Revolution that the idea of presenting a history session during the 2016 AAD Summer Meeting is a no-brainer. So, plan to attend such a session on the first day of the meeting, but don’t expect to hear about Paul Revere, John Adams, and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Instead, experience “A History of Boston Dermatology,” the story of how dermatologists in the city blazed a trail of innovation from the mid-1800s to modern times. The interactive session — featuring pictures, papers, and early dermatologic tools — will be presented from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. Thursday, July 28.

“Boston has a long, storied history in the academic world, particularly in the medical world. Dermatology is a great part of that legacy,” said Vinod Nambudiri, MD, MBA, session director. “By 1860 or so, there were the makings of a dermatology service in Boston. We will talk about that and some of the influential figures who shaped the very early history of dermatology in the United States, and in Boston in particular.”

Dr. Nambudiri, an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, will examine how the specialty established roots in the city in the later 1800s, when several physicians who had trained in Europe returned to Boston. In the early 20th century, even more dermatology leaders practiced in Boston’s hospitals, and conducted research and taught at its universities.

“Several key figures in the history of dermatology in the United States made their way through Boston. I will focus on the work of Thomas D. Fitzpatrick, MD, who was a giant in dermatology,” Dr. Nambudiri said. “His legacy is in the development of light-based therapy, including phototherapy and PUVA/photochemotherapy for the management of cutaneous disease. That continues to have a profound impact on the way dermatology is practiced.”

The role of the city’s major hospitals in the 20th century through today, from Boston City Hospital/Boston Medical Center to Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will be discussed.

“Boston has emerged as a focus point for several hubs of dermatologic innovation on the basic science and research side with fantastic insights into cutaneous immunology and melanoma,” Dr. Nambudiri said. “The same can be said about translational medicine, with the Wellman Center for Photomedicine and its development of several light- and laser-based treatments to aesthetic things to cryolipolysis for cool sculpting.

“We will discuss the past and present, and look into the future to emphasize where we are headed. I also look forward to others contributing to the conversation during the session.”

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