Opened in Pittsburgh in 1886, and upon being integrated into the newly named University of Pittsburgh in 1908, The Western Pennsylvania Medical College offered the first medical school courses in Dermatology, under the direction of Dr. William Harvey Guy.
The earliest chairman of the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine Department of Dermatology, Dr. Guy was appointed as chairman in 1920 and continued in this capacity until 1951. He served as chairman of the Section on Dermatology and Syphiology of the American Medical Association, president of the American Medical Association, president of the Allegheny County Medical Society, in addition to serving as chief of Dermatology for the majority of Pittsburgh hospitals of the time.
Lester Hollander, MD was a driving force in Pittsburgh for public health awareness about the early signs of skin cancer. A faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Dermatology, he founded the Pittsburgh Skin and Cancer Foundation in 1923 as an organization that catered to patients who were unable to afford dermatology services for the treatment of skin cancer. For more than twenty-years, Dr. Hollander, along with thirteen other area dermatologists and dermatology residents, saw patients at the Skin and Cancer Clinic in Oakland on a weekly basis. With his colleagues and residents, Dr. Hollander conducted clinical investigations at the Skin and Cancer Clinic to determine the efficacy of therapeutic skin cancer drugs, reporting his wealth of findings in highly respected scholarly journals of the time.
Frederick Murray Jacob, MD became chairman of the Division of Dermatology in 1951. Dr. Jacob was one of the earliest graduates of the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, having graduated from medical school in 1913; he went on to complete his residency and research training at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, prior to being appointed as a faculty member in the Department of Dermatology. The department’s most active physician-scientist, Dr. Jacob was a Mellon Research Fellow in Pathology, an Instructor in Immunology, and extremely active in basic science and investigative dermatology publications. He was an energetic contributor to local and national medical societies, including the American Dermatologic Association where he served as president, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Allegheny County Medical Society, where he was elected as president and vice president during his 45-year membership.
Drs. Hollander and Jacob were instrumental in creating the first dermatology residency program in Pittsburgh. A Dermatology residency program was established in 1946 and operated through the Pittsburgh Skin and Cancer Foundation, until 1967. The Foundation trained 12 residents in dermatology during this twenty-one year span. In 1967 The Pittsburgh Skin and Cancer Foundation merged with Presbyterian Hospital, at which time the residency program became defunct. In 1972 the Department was approved to operate a residency program by the American Board of Dermatology, training two residents per year in a three-year long residency program.
From the late 1950’s through the late 1970’s, the Department of Dermatology was moved from being an independent department, to one that was under the umbrella of the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Harry Wechsler served as the Chief of the Division of Dermatology for a decade, from the late 1950’s through the late 1960’s. Dr. Paul S. Porter then served as the Chief of the Division of Dermatology until 1978.
After breaking away from the Department of Medicine in the late 1970’s, William Eaglstein was named chairman of the Department of Dermatology in 1980. Dr. Eaglstein was instrumental in the addition of a Mohs surgery center, an inpatient dermatology unit, and a Dermatopathology unit to the Department. With Industry and NIH support, Dr. Eaglstein collaborated with faculty across the University system, extensively researching and publishing on the topic of wound healing. Dr. Eaglstein left the department in 1986, accepting the position of Chairman at the University of Miami.
Brian V. Jegasothy, MD, was named professor and chairman of the department in 1987, a position he held until 1999. Dr. Jegasothy was a prominent researcher in the field of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, developing an improved treatment for the disease and designing the standard photoperesis method used for treating severe cases of CTCL. Dr. Jegasothy worked closely with the organ transplant research team at the University of Pittsburgh, and was crucial in developing a topical form of FK506.
Louis D. Falo, Jr., MD, PhD was recruited from Harvard University in 1993, and appointed as chairman of the Department of Dermatology in 1999. Under his leadership, the Department has extensively grown and flourished into one of the top Academic Dermatology centers in the country. Actively involved in melanoma and skin cancer research, Dr. Falo’s extensive collaborative research includes areas such as drug delivery systems, biotechnology, immunobiology, vaccine design, immunotherapy, dendritic cell biology, and antigen processing and presentation.