The 2019 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Meeting in Washington, D.C., is always a wonderful reminder of all of the innovation happening in dermatology. I left the meeting optimistic that our field is moving forward with new disease insights, new therapies, and new diagnostics driven forward by motivated, talented individuals across academia and industry.
But my favorite part of the AAD is the day before. Every year, Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, hosts a pre-AAD meeting called the Dermatology Innovation Forum. In this one-day conference, I get a frontline seat to founder stories, new innovations and major advances. The smaller, more intimate one-room setting allows for innovators, academics, industry leaders and the policymakers to tell the story behind the story. Here are some of the highlights from the 2019 DIF conference.
We heard from innovators across academic, industry, and small companies pushing forward exciting innovations in Dermatology. Stephanie Klein M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Utah, talked about her experience with the Magic Wand® initiative. She spent a year immersing herself in an innovation curriculum designed specifically for clinicians.
It was exciting to hear how she was taking what she learned about innovation and applying it to improving the process flow of seeing patients in a busy academic practice – devices, drugs and software do not have a monopoly on innovation. Dr. Klein’s innovations around streamlining prescription topical drug substitutions has a profound benefit on the quality of life for providers and their staff.
James Allred M.D., F.A.A.D., chief clinical officer, RxThat, Inc., is taking on the relentless rise in prescription drug prices in dermatology by offering a transparent digital marketplace for patients to find the cheapest prescription drugs. The growth and speed of digital innovations in dermatology is exciting.1 Companies such as Enspectra Health, led by Gabrial Sanchez, Ph.D., are leveraging both diagnostic hardware innovations to image living tissue without a biopsy and digital AI to deliver point-of-care diagnostics. From the industry side, Adrian Rosessler M.Sc., head of Imagine at the Leo Innovation Lab,2 showed us a sneak peak of the future of skin disease tracking, treatment effectiveness and diagnostics. Lucid Dermatology, founded by two Harvard dermatology residents, Sameer Gupta, M.D. and Tyler Menge, M.D., is disrupting the patch testing experience through software and computer vision.
Beyond digital innovations, the meeting highlighted new therapeutic advances and major milestones in therapeutics innovation. Doug Lowy, M.D., deputy director of the National Cancer Institute, 2017 Lasker Prize Winner, and a dermatologist, spoke about his journey from studying the HPV virus to the eventual FDA approval of a vaccine for the virus.
Central to this major success was a collaboration between the public and private sectors. We now have a vaccine that, essentially, prevents cancer. In my humble opinion, this represents one of the most important medical breakthroughs in the 21st century.
Dr. Brian Kim, assistant professor of dermatology and co-director of the Center for the Study of Itch, outlined a vision for the future therapeutic landscape of chronic pruritus.
The FDA’s Markham Luke, M.D., Ph.D., and Elektra Papadopoulos, M.D., spoke about the ways the agency is supporting innovation in dermatology and beyond.
Ray Miller, J.D., and Nicole Stakleff, J.D., both partners at Pepper Hamilton LLP, added their regulatory and intellectual property insights, specifically around drug compounding.
At meetings such as the American Academy of Dermatology and the Dermatology Innovation Forum, I am always encouraged and excited about what I see. Every year, the milestones we achieve in the science and delivery of skin health become more significant. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Dr Xu is a member of Advancing Innovation in Dermatology, Inc., a registered 501(c)(3) organization designated as a public charity in the United States. He derives no direct financial benefit from his membership.
1 Xu S. Dermatology Times. 2019;40(1):15. www.dermatologytimes.com/innovation/digital-health-and-dermatology
2 Imagine website: https://getimagine.io/about/