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Highlights | Dermatology achieves department status

  • The UW School of Medicine Division of Dermatology’s department status becomes official on Oct. 1, 2023.
  • New research, education and patient care opportunities are possible.
  • As a department, Dermatology will assume greater control of financial and human resources.

Changes are coming for the UW School of Medicine Division of Dermatology. As of Oct. 1, 2023, it will formally transition into a new department.

This journey to Department status began in September 2020. To meet the requirements for full department status, the division had to surpass stringent metrics in education, research and clinical care. Compared to academic divisions which are often part of a larger department, academic departments are generally more independent with autonomy over finances and human resources. Prior to becoming a department, UW Dermatology was one of a small number of prominent dermatology divisions in the country.

UW Medicine dermatologists will have more educational and research opportunities as a full department. Patients will also enjoy new clinical care options.

“To become recognized as a full department in the School of Medicine is an incredibly meaningful milestone for us and reflects support and assistance from many people across UW Medicine,” says Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD, professor and head of the Division of Dermatology. “This will build on the high-quality clinical care and teaching already provided by our outstanding faculty and staff, as well as our strengths in research.”

Division of Dermatology history

The Division of Dermatology has a rich history at UW Medicine. It’s been a leader in the field since its inception in 1961.

The division’s national research reputation began immediately with groundbreaking discoveries in skin biology. These findings laid the groundwork for 32 years of National Research Service Awards (NRSA). And in 1989, UW School of Medicine created the Endowed Research Fund to support young investigators. The most current research efforts, funded by the National Cancer Institute, focus on immunotherapies for Merkel cell carcinoma.

The first School of Medicine dermatology resident graduated in 1966. By 1994, the division added telemedicine to teach more medical students and residents throughout the WWAMI region. Then, in 2003 and 2004, training expanded again with two fellowships in dermatopathology and procedural dermatology. The division also created three endowed chairs in clinical care, research and training between 1989 and 2008.

To advance patient care throughout the WWAMI region, the division opened its Dermatologic Surgery Program in 1990. Patients have accessed this care at the Dermatology Clinic at UW Medical Center – Roosevelt since 2003.

Departmental benefits

As a new department, this group will be able to grow and nurture its educational, research and clinical care capabilities. It will have greater financial flexibility and resources. Collectively, fulfilling these new responsibilities will help the group meet the region’s rapidly growing dermatology needs.

This new status also facilitates stronger recruitment efforts for talented trainees and faculty, and it expands funding opportunities. Overall, it solidifies UW Medicine’s position as a national dermatology leader.

“We are grateful to the faculty, staff and trainees who have worked hard toward this department transition process over the past three years,” says Michi Shinohara, MD, associate chief of Dermatology. “I’m proud of our team for their enthusiasm and determination during this time of growth and change.”

For more than 60 years, UW Dermatology has been part of an elite group of prominent dermatology divisions nationwide. As a new department, it will include 30 faculty and 12 residents who complete more than 22,000 annual patient visits at nine clinical locations. It will maintain its training efforts for fellows in dermatopathology and pediatric dermatology, as well as its support for three research labs that have received over $15 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and Foundations.”

Thoughts from the Department of Medicine Chair

Incorporating dermatology as a new department will strengthen UW Medicine’s abilities to provide the highest level of patient care while contributing to pioneering medical research. It’s a move that will contribute to the institution’s consistent ranking as one of the nation’s top medical schools.

“I feel privileged to see this come to fruition and look forward to welcoming our newest department into our group of peers,” says Barbara Jung, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine. “I also want to highlight the passion behind this from Paul and Michi and the dedication of divisional and departmental staff. It’s a true team effort.”

Originally published by the Division of Dermatology.