Colleagues describe the late A. Bernard Ackerman, M.D., one of the most noted dermatologists in the specialty's history, as articulate, educated, honest, ethical, tireless and outspoken.
Dr. Ackerman died Dec. 5, 2008, of heart failure at his Manhattan home at the age of 72. He was director emeritus of the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New York.
One of the world's leading authorities in dermatopathology, Dr. Ackerman spent more than 40 years in academic dermatology, training generations of students.
He previously served as director of dermatopathology at the University of Miami School of Medicine; director of dermatopathology at New York University School of Medicine; and director of the Institute for Dermatopathology at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
A lifelong and passionate advocate for medical ethics, Dr. Ackerman published more than 700 articles and more than 60 books, launched two professional journals, and founded the International Society of Dermatopathology in 1979.
Those who remember him recall the man they describe as "larger than life" and "a giant" in his field.
"Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman — best known as 'Bernie' in his professional life — was among the most important thinkers in the history of dermatopathology," says Philip E. LeBoit, M.D., of San Francisco. Dr. LeBoit trained with Dr. Ackerman in dermatopathology in 1982, and, thereafter, knew him as a colleague and friend.
"Through hundreds of articles, dozens of books and thousands of lectures, he made dermatopathology come alive for medical students, residents, fellows and colleagues."
Dr. LeBoit says Dr. Ackerman was instrumental in describing histopathologic criteria for the early stages of psoriasis, lichen planus, melanoma, mycosis fungoides and Kaposi's sarcoma.
"His method of analyzing inflammatory skin disease by pattern analysis is routinely used by most practitioners. He (also) elevated medical publishing to an art form, authoring books that were a pleasure to look at and read — the opposite of many of the bone-dry tomes that predated them," he says.
The founder of the International Society of Dermatopathology and of the American Journal of Dermatopathology, Dr. Ackerman entered the information age with a "superb" Web site,
"Bernie was a superb teacher who inspired several generations, leaving a legacy of hundreds of trainees on every civilized continent.
"Even in his 'retirement,' he remained a major force in medical malpractice reform, and continued to tackle sociopolitical issues that affected dermatology and pathology. He will be greatly missed," Dr. LeBoit says.