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Departments / Dermatology / About Us / Mission/History



The missions of the department are to:

  • Advance the training and education of future dermatologists and dermatologic scientists. 
  • Advance the science of dermatology.
  • Provide the highest quality care for patients with a wide spectrum of skin disorders. 

The department aims to accomplish the above missions while working alongside other departments and entities of the College of Medicine and UC Health.


The department has a long, rich history. The following is a glimpse of that historical timeline, as written by Charles Heaton, MD.

Dr. Augustus Ravogli arrived in Cincinnati in 1881. He quickly became a successful and prominent man. His numerous articles and papers were printed and read on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He wrote two textbooks, “The Hygiene of the Skin, Etiology & Treatment” and “Syphilis in its Medical, Legal and Social Aspects.” 

The credit for the founding of present day dermatology in Cincinnati must go to Dr. Ravogli. 

In 1882, one year after arriving in Cincinnati, Dr. Ravogli began teaching dermatology at Miami Medical College. In 1896 he became professor of dermatology at the Medical College of Ohio. 

When Miami Medical College merged with the Medical College of Ohio to form the present University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dr. Ravogli became the first professor of dermatology and syphilology. He established the department as a separate and distinct unit within the College of Medicine and this has continued to the present. 

Dr. Ravogli brought the first meeting of the American Medical Association’s Section on Dermatology and Syphilology to Cincinnati on May 8, 1888. He remained chairman of dermatology until 1909 and was appointed professor emeritus in 1917.

Dr. Meyer L. Heidingsfeld became chair of the department in 1909 and held this post for nine years. 

Dr. Heidingsfeld was a hard-driving individual who took great pains to be punctual and regular in attendance and had no hesitancy in letting others know that he expected the same in return. 
With his exceptional energies, Dr. Heidingsfeld created large and interesting clinics. His Saturday morning lecture in the amphitheater was always popular and instructive. Patients were requested to walk up old wooden steps to the amphitheater stage to be observed and were used to demonstrate the clinical phases of his lectures. 

Despite a busy private practice, Dr. Heidingsfeld found time to attend the outpatient dispensary late in the afternoon. The medical residents would hold the interesting cases and it was not unusual for him to upset many a well-conceived diagnosis by means of his keen insight and great knowledge. These short sessions were very instructive and became noteworthy because of the fine points he demonstrated.

Dr. Heidingsfeld gave the first injection of Salvarsan, called “Praeparat 606,” in Cincinnati for the treatment of syphilis in 1910, soon after Ehrlich’s presentation at Wiesbaden, Germany. He also pioneered X-ray therapy for dermatological disorders. He died in 1918. 

Dr. Elmore B. Tauber, who trained in dermatology centers in London, Vienna, Hamburg and New York, was the son of Dr. Bernard Tauber, the ophthalmologist who introduced Dr. Ravogli to Cincinnati. He assumed chairmanship in 1918 following the death of Dr. Heidingsfeld. He also headed the department at Jewish Hospital and Children’s Hospital until his death in 1941. 

Dr. Tauber was a charter member of the Cincinnati Dermatological Society, its first vice president and was president in 1927, 1928 and 1940. He was also one of the founders of the Central States Dermatological Association.

Dr. Tauber made it possible for dermatology to have its own separate ward and staff. He was dedicated to the principle of the autonomy of the Dermatology Department, believing that only in this manner could it be maximally effective. The department grew significantly under Dr. Tauber’s leadership.

Dr. Harry L. Claassen served as an assistant in Dr. Tauber’s office, but after a short period left to be European trained in dermatology. 

In 1923 Dr. Claassen entered private practice in Cincinnati and became director of dermatology at Childrens’ Hospital and the Cincinnati Sanitarium, and a staff member at Christ and Jewish hospitals. Following Dr. Tauber’s death in 1941, Dr. Claassen became professor and chairman of the UC Department of Dermatology. His constant work left little time for writing, although he did publish 16 articles. He was a charter member of the Cincinnati Dermatological Society and served as secretary and president on several occasions. He was an excellent mycologist and medical photographer, but his favorite disease was seborrheic dermatitis.

Dr. Claassen constantly discussed variations in its clinical appearance and the methods of its therapy. He was known as “the man without a desk,” and when asked why, he always replied, “I never have time to sit down.” This was symbolic of the type of person he was—of temperate habits, and loyal to his work. 

In 1946, he had his first coronary attack and was told that he must slow down. He tried at first, but after a few months he was unable to resist the requests and demands of his patients. While seeing one in his office in January 1947, he was fatally stricken at the age of 55. It may truly be said that his death was hastened by his devotion to others. 

Dr. Leon Goldman became our fifth chairman and professor in 1947. He was a graduate of the UC College of Medicine (1929) and became interested in dermatology during his residency on the medical service at Cincinnati General Hospital. He later became the first resident dermatologist at the hospital, serving in the departments of both medicine and dermatology from 1932-1937. 

Eventually Dr. Goldman went on to Europe to study with Bruno Bloch at the Dermatologische Klinik of the University of Zurich in 1937 and then at the Guy’s Hospital in London with Barber and Forman. His interests were in the field of contact dermatitis and the value of fever therapy in neuro-syphilis. 

Dr. Goldman was part of the early investigation of topical corticosteroids and he was a pioneer investigator of laser beam therapy in relationship to dermatologic problems. He is internationally renowned as the father of the medical laser. 

Dr. Goldman established the first formal residency program in dermatology at the University of Cincinnati approved by the American Board of Dermatology. He is a recipient of the Daniel Drake Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UC College of Medicine in recognition of distinguished faculty who have made unique or outstanding contributions to medical education, scholarship or research. The laser laboratory of the Jewish Hospital is named for him. 

Dr. Goldman continued the training program of scores of students and residents, many of whom are in practice locally. He retired as chairman in 1976 as emeritus professor. Approximately 100 residents trained with Dr. Goldman in his long tenure as chairman.

Dr. George W. Hambrick succeeded Dr. Goldman as chairman of the Dermatology Department in 1976. He had previously served as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and then moved on to be professor and chairman of the dermatology department at Johns Hopkins University from 1966-1976. 

Dr. Hambrick inaugurated an intensified and highly disciplined training program for students, residents and fellows. He fostered high standards of clinical and academic standards. Academic and clinical research projects were begun. He established the department as a full-time entity, with the faculty members being physically present all day. 

Dr. Hambrick was responsible for recruiting Dr. Estes from the University of Arizona and Dr. Heaton from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Mary Bell, PhD, who began the basic science research program. Dr. John Ratz was recruited as the department’s first Mohs surgeon. The Noah Worcester-Daniel F. Richfield Conference room in Pavilion A of University Hospital (now UC Medical Center) was built under his direction.

After four years of service, Dr. Hambrick left the department in 1981 to become co-chairman of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Dr. Charles L. Heaton was the interim chair from 1981 to 1983 and again in 1998. Dr. Hambrick recruited him to the University of Cincinnati in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Dr. Heaton was very active in medical student teaching and clinical training. He and Dr. Hambrick obtained the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention training grant to fund the STD/HIV Prevention Training Center housed in the Cincinnati Health Department’s Clement Health Center.

Dr. Heaton recruited Dr. Mark Rinsky to head the Cincinnati VA dermatology program in 1982. He also invited Dr. Daniel Richfield to bring his dermatopathology practice into the department in 1982. In 1983 Dr. Heaton, Dr. Harry Fox and Dr. Edward Gardner were the moving force behind the organization of the Ohio Dermatological Association. 

Dr. Heaton was the third president of the ODA, and was also the first president of the Ohio Dermatology Foundation. His interests were in diagnostic medical dermatology with special interest in venereology. 

Dr. James J. Nordlund was recruited from Yale University School of Medicine to chair the Department of Dermatology in 1983. He is known for his expertise in pigmentation and pigmentary disorders. 

The teaching program for students, residents and fellows grew under his direction and a total of 55 residents were trained during his watch. Four of these residents were international trainees with three being from Thailand and one from Ireland. 

During Dr. Nordlund’s tenure, basic science research programs grew with the recruitment of Raymond Boissy, PhD, from Yale University School of Medicine and Zalfa Abdel-Malek, PhD, from the University of Arizona. 

New clinical faculty arrived during his chairmanship, with Drs. Paul and Anne Lucky being recruited from Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Jean Cline joined us at the VA. He recruited Lawrence Rheins, PhD, to supplement our basic science research program, and hired Mohs surgeons Dr. Robert Weltman, Dr. Brett Coldiron and Dr. Hugh Gloster.

Dr. Debra Breneman joined the department in 1983 to develop the Clinical Research and Cutaneous Lymphoma programs. 

Dr. Bhakta V. Chetty joined the department in 1985 as teacher and mentor. He retired for a second time in 2005. 

When Dr. Daniel F. Richfield and Dr. David Barron left the department in 1989, Dr. Diya F. Mutasim was recruited in 1990 to lead the Immunodermatology program. In 1997, at the close of his chairmanship, Dr. Nordlund spent a sabbatical year at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College in Moshi, Tanzania. There he studied pigmentary and tropical disorders, and he still visits to give final exams to graduating senior students.

Dr. Diya F. Mutasim assumed the chair of dermatology in late 1998. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the American University of Beirut in 1979. He then completed a residency in dermatology and a postdoctoral research fellowship in Immunodermatology at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Mutasim was chosen because of his outstanding academic accomplishments in the field of autoimmune diseases. He has built a tremendous dermatopathology practice that helped stabilize the department financially. 

Under Dr. Mutasim’s leadership, the clinical practice of the department expanded from two sites to five major and two minor sites. Dr. Mutasim, recognized as a leading expert in the field of dermatopathology and immunodermatology, was one of the first to train and deploy nurse practitioners and physician assistants in dermatology practice, to meet increasing clinical demands in the face of insufficient numbers of dermatologists in the community and nationwide.

During his tenure, Dr. Mutasim, largely single-handedly, increased the department’s dermatopathology practice by 2.5 fold, reading and interpreting around 30,000 tissue specimens in the present year. His clients are both regional and national.

Dr. Mutasim was also program director for two of the department’s training programs.  The quality of both the general dermatology residency and the dermatopathology fellowship improved dramatically during his leadership as attested to by board scores and 100 percent pass rates.

In August 2012, Dr. Mutasim requested to step down as chair and devote his energies to his subspecialty area, auto-immune skin disorders, to dermatopathology and to teaching.

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Brian Adams, MD, MPH, was named interim chair of the Department of Dermatology and was appointed permanent chair effective July 1, 2014. Adams currently holds the Drs. Diya F. Mutasim & Hugh M. Gloster, Jr. & Harry L. Claassen Endowed Chair of Dermatology. Adams is also director of the department’s Sports Dermatology Clinic and serves as chief of dermatology at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

He has a teaching relationship with a number of other residency/fellowship programs within the college, teaches in the undergraduate athletic training program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services and has also taught in the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

Today, our department stands on the shoulders of leaders who have struggled to teach the science and art of medicine and dermatology. We stand at a threshold of exponential expansion of exemplary patient care and research. Our department has become a dynamic oasis.

The future is now. What we do today will impact our specialty in the tomorrows ahead.

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Medical Sciences Building Room 1207A
231 Albert Sabin Way
PO Box 670592
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0592

Mail Location: 0592
Phone: 513-558-6242
Fax: 513-558-0198