In commemoration of the Skin of Color Society’s 15th anniversary, SOCS Founder Susan C. Taylor, MD shares her memories about establishing the organization, and thoughts about its growth and evolution ever since…
Early history that led to the formation of SOCS
The inspiration for an organization primarily dedicated to skin of color dermatology came about through discussions among colleagues at the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt in New York City, which was co-founded by Susan C. Taylor, MD and Vince DeLeo, MD, who was then chair of the Department in 1999. As the emerging field of skin of color dermatology gained attention and interest in the greater dermatologic community, the need for a professional society advancing awareness, education, research and excellence in the field became increasingly evident to the two of them, along with their Skin of Color Center colleagues, Jeff Weinberg, MD and Fran Cook-Bolden, MD. And so, in 2004, Dr. Taylor took the lead in establishing the Skin of Color Society, envisioning an organization that would promote the study and greater understanding of skin of color, and one day, become the global go-to authority for this special interest.
Pioneers in Skin of Color Dermatology—Susan C. Taylor, MD, and Vince DeLeo, Co-founders of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s- Roosevelt (now Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West). Dr. Taylor founded the Skin of Color Society, and Dr. DeLeo is a Founding Board member of SOCS.
Founding Board members included a passionate group of dermatologists, many of whom continue to provide leadership to SOCS: Valerie D. Callender, MD; Vincent DeLeo, MD; Pearl E. Grimes, MD; Aditya Gupta, MD; Rebat Halder, MD; Victoria Holloway, MD; Sewon Kang, MD; A. Paul Kelly, MD; Henry W. Lim, MD; Amit G. Pandya, MD; Marta I. Rendon, MD; David Rodriquez, MD; Miguel Sanchez, MD; Richard Scher, MD and Susan C. Taylor, MD (Founder).
Reflecting on the Skin of Color Society’s growth and evolution, Dr. Taylor notes: “I am absolutely thrilled with the trajectory of SOCS since we began fifteen years ago. When we look at how the membership has grown, it’s so rewarding to see the expansion in the numbers of members involved, as well as our diversity and the wide range of valuable programs and activities we now offer.”
Dr. Taylor points out that at the recent Annual SOCS Scientific Symposium—which was the largest one to date— the room was filled with dermatologists, residents, medical students and pre-med students, as well as our industry supporters. “This shows that the mission of the Society is becoming more and more relevant and it is being embraced in a much broader way. We provide outstanding education through our Annual Scientific Symposium, where the calibre of lectures, research presentations, and poster exhibits are consistently excellent. And for me, every year, I sit in the meeting room with a big smile, like a proud parent looking at how my fledgling has grown and flourished! This is a testament to all the people who continue to work so hard to make SOCS a leading organization serving our profession.”
SOCS Presidents united with a shared mission: From left, Amy McMichael, MD (2015-2016) Seemal R. Desai, MD (2017-2018) Susan C. Taylor, MD (Founder and First President) and Lynn McKinley-Grant, MD (current President)
As for the future, Dr. Taylor emphasizes the key importance of research and the need to expand funding for grants to study relevant areas in skin of color dermatology. She hopes to see continued inroads made into mentoring medical students, residents and younger dermatologists with a special interest in skin of color dermatology, and hopes to see more initiatives to help support underrepresented medical students. As she comments, “The Society is as strong as its leaders and participants. I encourage everyone to join a SOCS committee, become more involved, make contributions beyond your membership dues, and share your expertise in, and passion for, skin of color dermatology.”