The unexpected dermatologist

| Steve Bieler

Founders’ Week continues with today’s guest, Mark Lebwohl, M.D. Lebwohl is the Waldman Chair of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and chairman emeritus of the NPF medical board.

Why did you get involved with NPF?

I did three years of internal medicine at Mount Sinai in the early ’80s, expecting to be a cardiologist, but most of my patients were psoriasis patients. That was my first real exposure in dermatology. Psoriasis was a challenge I really liked. We did not have any good treatments. There were not a lot of people around who were good at psoriasis. And it was a chronic disease. You got to know people and their families because you took care of them over a span of years. Also, having a background in internal medicine, psoriasis was a natural for me because of the many cutaneous manifestations of systemic diseases. None are more common than psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Everyone who takes care of psoriasis patients knows that when you have a disease that affects the way you look, it does something to your personality. It makes you more understanding of others. That was something that I thought was unique to psoriasis patients that made me like them.

I would see when the NPF medical advisory board [today’s medical board] was meeting at the AAD [American Academy of Dermatology], and I would introduce myself and offer to do stuff. Gerry Weinstein [a member of NPF’s original medical advisory board] invited me to participate in a video they were making. Then they invited me to join the board. That was in 1990. I was the youngest guy. I was literally a little kid with all these giants, like Gerry Weinstein. He was a role model for me. He went out of his way to help anyone interested in psoriasis. I emulated him as much as I could.

Which NPF activities do you enjoy?

The thing that I enjoyed most was starting the residents meeting [a two-day program that educates dermatology residents about recent advances in the treatment and management of psoriasis]. That first meeting was a success and has continued to be for decades.

I also enjoyed starting Psoriasis Forum, now the Journal of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. I even liked going to the board of trustees [now the board of directors] meetings. I went because I thought, where else are you going to meet a group of people who are so dedicated? Some of those people are still good friends of mine.

What would you tell someone who is thinking of joining NPF?

Once I became interested in psoriasis, anytime NPF had an event, I showed up. Every one of them. Half of everything is showing up, volunteering, doing some work for which you are not getting paid. Instead you’ll meet really nice people who appreciate that you did something nice for them. You show up, volunteer and work hard. Success will follow.

Other interviews in this series

Donald A. Grilli

Michael Laub

Carol Ostrow

Abby Van Voorhees, M.D.

Today on Founders’ Week: Know your comorbidities

Unfortunately, psoriatsis doesn’t exist all by itself. Psoriasis has several related conditions, or comorbidities, such as psoriatic arthritis. Find out about comorbidities and what you can do about them with this free fact sheet. And return tomorrow for our next guest in this Founders' Week series: longtime board member Carol Ostrow.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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