By Harry Dao Jr., MD, Chair, Department of Dermatology, LLUSM
I do not know who had more anxiety or excitement on Sept. 3, 2019. That morning, I held my 2.5-year-old daughter in my arms and reassured her that her first day of preschool would be fun. Perhaps I was just trying to calm my nerves, as it was also my first day on the job after moving from Texas to California. It was an honor to be appointed chair of the department of dermatology at Loma Linda University (LLU). Would I live up to expectations?
Dermatology started as a section of internal medicine in 1981 with two dermatologists, Fred F. Soeprono ’73 and Ingrid K. Trenkle ’73. One year later, Nancy J. Anderson ’76 joined the faculty, followed by Abel Torres, MD, four years later. Dr. Anderson and Dr. Torres founded the dermatology residency program in 1988. For 32 years, Dr. Torres served as head of the division of dermatology (1996-2008) and chair of the department of dermatology (2008-2018).
To date, 50 residents and 21 Mohs procedural dermatology fellows have graduated from our program. The dedicated dermatology faculty members oversee extensive training in medical and surgical dermatology, with further training in dermatopathology, pediatric dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology emphasized. Our three current senior residents have continued this trend of excellence. Janna M. Vassantachart ’16 matched into a pediatric dermatology fellowship at Stanford and Karen Kagha, MD, into a laser medicine fellowship at Harvard. Parin Rimtepathip, MD, will be joining a private practice dermatology group in Georgia.
As of January 2020, we have 12 faculty between LLU and the VA, eight residents, two physician assistants, and over 20 dedicated support staff who are committed to whole person care. Faculty and residents care for patients at the LLU Faculty Medical Clinics, Riverside University Health System (RUHS), and the Loma Linda VA Health Care System (VA). At the Faculty Medical Clinics in 2019, 18,238 outpatient visits, 1,000 Mohs surgery cases, and 2,908 cosmetic visits were completed. We also work with third- and fourth-year medical students and family medicine, internal medicine, and plastic surgery residents who rotate on our clinical service.
Sharon E. Jacob, MD, is chief of the dermatology section at the VA. The VA-based dermatology program at Loma Linda has provided veteran-centered care and residency education for over three decades. For fiscal year 2019, the dermatology department completed 12,488 patient encounters. VA physician faculty members have joint appointments at LLU and the VA, and they see patients at the VA, supervising students and residents and conducting research.
Upon speaking with Betsy J. Furukawa ’06, our associate residency program director and dermatology service line chief at RUHS, you can feel her excitement with our continued partnership with RUHS, allowing us to provide care to a diverse and underserved population. In 2019, 3,045 outpatient clinic visits were completed. Teledermatology is offered as well. Clinical capacity will increase with an upcoming move this year.
By summer, our department’s home base will be moving to 25865 Barton Road, Suite 101, Loma Linda. I was fortunate to be able to work with the architects during the planning stages of this move. Our capacity for clinical care will grow with an increase in the dermatologic surgery unit from three to eight surgical rooms, and we will also have 18 medical and cosmetic treatment rooms that will pave the way for the recruitment of additional dermatologists to our team. Our residents will benefit from a larger conference room for their didactic training, and I expect our academic, clinical, and research activities to grow over the coming years.
Dr. Dao earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He served on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine for seven years before coming to Loma Linda University in September 2019.
DERMATOLOGY FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS:
Nancy J. Anderson ’76
Dr. Nancy J. Anderson, our most senior faculty member, is a true Loma Linda University “lifer.” Little did she know when growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan, that she would dedicate her career to Loma Linda University, but there were hints along the way. Her father, Harold E. Anderson ’40, was one of the first dermatology residents to graduate from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her younger brother, Kent Anderson, was a graduate of LLU’s School of Dentistry.
In her long tenure, she has held positions as chief of the section of dermatology at Jerry L. Pettis VA Memorial Hospital (1984-2016) as well as co-chair/chair of the section of dermatology (1988-1996). For 32 years she served as the director of the dermatology residency training program (1996-2018). Nationally, Dr. Anderson has been an advisor with the AAMC, member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship Committee, and physician liaison for the National Psoriasis Foundation support group.
What drives Dr. Anderson is the pursuit of knowledge and the love of teaching. Within her busy complex medical dermatology clinics, she especially loves psoriasis and blistering diseases. She is equally busy in her cosmetic dermatology clinics, where she is in high demand. Dr. Anderson lectures to numerous medical groups and societies, and she presents 40-50 lectures annually. She also has a long list of research projects as the primary investigator.
Outside of work, Dr. Anderson used to be an avid sailor. Nowadays, you can find her hiking or gardening — roses are her favorite!
Janiene Luke, MD
Dr. Janiene Luke is our fearless program director of the residency training program. She started her faculty position in 2011 at Loma Linda University and has worn many hats within the program. Her contributions and service within the department are numerous — she is one of our go-to mentors for medical students interested in dermatology and serves on numerous committees within the department. Within the University, she has served on the Admissions Committee for the School of Medicine since 2012 and served as chief of the dermatology section at RUHS (2012-2016). Since 2012, she has served as the dermatology compliance representative, keeping clinical operations in check.
Clinically, Dr. Luke wears as many hats as she does on the administrative side. She welcomes tough medical dermatology cases in both children and adults, and she has a burgeoning interest in cosmetic dermatology as well as in skin of color. She tackles tough and important subjects, such as the issue of diversity in dermatology, having served on the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Diversity Task Force and being selected to attend the AAD Diversity Conference in recent years. For her commitment to promoting diversity in dermatology through her work on the task force, she was honored in the 2017 AAD Stars of the Academy with a Presidential Citation.
Outside of work, Dr. Luke is an active member of the CrossWord Christian Church, keeping busy as a praise and worship leader and with other church activities within the community. She also loves spending time with her husband and children.