​Department History


First Lectures on Dermatology Delivered in America

Dr. Henry Daggert Buckley delivers the first lectures ever in America on the study of skin and its diseases at Columbia University.


Founding of The Presbyterian Hospital

James Lenox founds The Presbyterian Hospital. Many of the leading dermatologists in New York deliver lectures at the newly founded institution.


First Publication illustrating Skin Afflictions is Published

Columbia physician, Dr. George Fox publishes Photographic Illustrations of Skin Diseases, the first use of photography to illustrate Skin diseases.


First Known Case of Allergic Contact Dermatitis is Identified

Dr. Fox identifies the first known case of contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction in the skin. He describes a rash attributed to chemicals used in the manufacture of matches.


Fox-Fordyce Disease is Identified

Fox-Fordyce Disease, a glandular disorder, is identified and described by Dr. Fox and Dr. John Fordyce.


The Presbyterian Hospital Affiliates with the College of Physician and Surgeons of Columbia University

At this time the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology is formally established and rapidly develops into one of the largest and best-equipped dermatologic centers in the nation.


A Significant and One of the First Studies of Hair and Scalp Disease is Published

Dr. George T. Jackson publishes 'A Treatise on Diseases of the Hair', an influential study of diseases of the hair and scalp.


The Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center is Founded

Henceforward all faculty members hold joint appointments at Columbia University and at The Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York.


World's First Mycology Laboratory Devoted to Study of Fungi is Founded

Dr. J. Gardner Hopkins develops the world's first mycology laboratory devoted exclusively to the study of fungi in animals and humans.


Internationally Acclaimed Dermatology Textbook is Published

Dr. George Andrews publishes the first of six editions of Diseases of the Skin, subsequently co-authored by Dr. Anthony Domokos. text becomes internationally acclaimed as the standard dermatology textbook for the next forty years and is translated into three languages.


Effective Treatment Schedules for Cure of Syphilis with Penicillin Established

Dr. A. Benson Cannon carries on pioneering work in the treatment of syphilis begun in the mid-1920's. He establishes treatment schedules at The Presbyterian Hospital for the use of penicillin, which proves effective in curing this sexually transmitted disease.

Pioneering Developments in Treatment of Fungal Infections for World War II Soldiers. The Department's Mycology Section pioneers the development and testing of medications based on fatty acids. These were used to treat fungal infections which were often disabling to American soldiers serving in tropical conditions during World War II.


Successful Clinical Trials with Cortisone for the Treatment of Pemphigus

Dr. Carl Truman Nelson initiates successful clinical trials using high doses of systemic corticosteroids for the treatment of pemphigus vulgaris, a skin disease that was almost always fatal prior to the use of this therapy.


Development of Nystatin, among the World's First Antimycotic Agents for Fungal Disease

Dr. Margarita Silva Hunter of the Mycology Section develops Nystatin, the world's first antibiotic to effectively treat fungal disease.


Nutrients Key to the Growth of Fungi Associated with Skin Disease Identified

Dr. Margarita Silva Hunter analyzes and describes the nutrients which are necessary to the growth of fungi associated with many skin diseases. Her work is vital to modern medicine's understanding of these diseases.


Innovative Diagnostic Tests introduced for Evaluating Skin Diseases Induced by Sunlight

Dr. Maureen Poh at the Presbyterian Hospital pioneers innovative diagnostic test procedures for evaluating a group of human skin diseases known as the porphyrias that are induced by exposure to sunlight.


Country's Largest and Most Modern Psoriasis Treatment Center Opens

An ambulatory Psoriasis Day Care Center opens at The Presbyterian Hospital. This unit combines with the Hospital's 22-bed in-patient service to form one of the country's largest and most modern facilities for the treatment of psoriasis.


Key Findings in Environmental Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Researchers led by Dr. Leonard C. Harber develop an animal model to detect chemicals in the environment which interact with sunlight to cause photoallergic contact dermatitis.


Diagnostic Tests for the Detection of Fatal Form of Skin Cancer Developed

Dr. Richard Edelson develops a sensitive diagnostic test for the detection of lymphomas, a fatal form of skin cancer. This landmark test is applied successfully for the first time at The Presbyterian Hospital and offers the promise of earlier, more accurate diagnosis of this malignancy.


A Nationally Acclaimed Skin Diseases Research Center (SDRC) is Established at Columbia

The success of the research program focuses on the genetics of skin disease results in the Department’s designation as one of only six such centers in the United States funded by the National Institutes of Health.


First Human Gene Associated with Hair Loss Discovered

Professor Angela M. Christiano and her research team identify the first human gene associated with hair loss. The new gene, called 'hairless', is linked to a severe form of inherited baldness and may be the trigger that drives the entire human hair growth cycle. The research suggests that genetic events influence hair growth and hair loss. Each step along this pathway may provide new clues for male pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss or alopecia.


Dr. David Bickers and Dr. Julian MacKay Wiggan Conduct Pioneering Clinical Trials

Their work shows that it is possible to safely and effectively treat patients with multiple skin cancers using drugs that are targeted at pathways that drive the growth of these tumors.


Dr. Christiano is Awarded an NIH-funded Alopecia Areata Center for Research Translation (AACORT)

This center supports advanced clinical trials using repurposed drugs to stimulate regrowth of hair in patients with alopecia areata.

Dr. Bickers and Dr. Christiano Are Awarded a Skin Disease Resource Center (epiCURE)

The center provides critical support for basic science and clinical research in the department.