World Health Academy lst International Winter Consensus Conference of Dermatology, Kitzbühel, Austria, 2012
This inaugural international event was held on December 13-15, 2012 in historic Kitzbühel, a jet set destination since it was “discovered” by the Duke of Windsor in 1928. Congress President Medhat Abdelmalek (Jordan), World Health Academy (WHA) President Robert A. Schwartz (USA), and WHA Secretary-General Torello M. Lotti (Italy) greeted eager participants from around the globe, assisted by Nobel Prize winners Kurt Wüthrich (Chemistry) and Charles H. Townes (Physics) and by Honorary Congress Presidents Klaus Wolff (Austria) and Hong-Duo Chen (China).
The presentations were excellent (Fig 1-3). Paulo R. Cunha (Brazil), in his superb lecture entitled “pruritus: pathogenesis and treatment –update 2012,” illuminated differences in opiate-induced pruritus as often depending upon mode of administration, with the highest incidence of pruritus being associated with intravenous morphine. Kurt Wüthrich (Switzerland) explained a multi-disciplinary structural biology approach to G-protein-coupled receptors as drug targets. Charles H. Townes (USA), who won the Nobel Prize for the maser, which led to the laser, spoke on the congeniality of science and religion. Congress President Medhat Abdelmalek (Jordan) enumerated advances in cosmetic dermatology. American Academy of Dermatology President Daniel M. Siegel (USA) promulgated the therapeutic use of pharmacologically active plants in economically-challenged regions. Torello M. Lotti (Italy) summarized what’s new and what’s valid in vitiligo research. Richard Spritz (USA) hypothesized that vitiligo may represent a dysregulation of the body’s surveillance for melanoma. John E. Harris (USA) reflected that recent observations in chemical leukoderma clarify the cooperative roles of melanocyte stress and autoimmunity in vitiligo pathogenesis. Youwen Zhou (Canada) described neurological changes in vitiligo skin. Brian W. Lee (USA) adroitly demarcated critical targets in vitiligo phototherapy. Jacek Szepietowski (Poland) viewed vitiligo as a condition in which stress may be a key pathogenic element. Lisa A. Garner (USA) discussed contact dermatitis from henna tattoos, as henna may contain the allergen p-phenylenediamine. Shyam Verma (India) analyzed unusual genitoperineal disorders, spotlighting a rare entity known as infantile perianal pyramidal protrusion. Xing-Hua Gao and Rui-Qun Qi (China) highlighted BRAF mutations in melanocytic neoplasms in China. Jana Hercogová (Czech Republic) articulated the challenges of the Euro Melanoma Program. Brian W. Lee (USA) focused upon critical targets for vitiligo phototherapy. Andy Goren (USA) covered photobiology and photochemistry. Antonio Salafia (India) has found dapsone and vitamin B6 to be among the most suitable antioxidants in treating vitiligo. Igor Korobko (Russia) analyzed repigmentation failure in vitiligo patients. Davinder Parsad (India) advocated treating vitiligo as an autoimmune disorder. Uwe Wollina (Germany) delineated new melanoma treatment options. Michael D. Tharp (USA) stressed that since aspirin and NSAIDs degranulate mast cells, their use should be avoided. High dose dapsone in combination with antihistamines may be helpful in antihistamine-resistant chronic urticaria patients. Robert A. Schwartz (USA) provided an update on Kaposi’s sarcoma. Alexander Turkevych (Ukraine) evinced a pivotal role for Trichomonas tenax in bacterial vaginosis. Mohamed Amer (Egypt) emphasized the use of stem cells as an anti-aging therapy.
The WHA First Annual Edmund Klein Award was given in absentia to Yasin Al-Qubati (Yemen) for his important work as General Secretary of the Yemen Society of Leprosy and Tuberculosis Elimination, working with the German Tuberculosis and Leprosy Relief Foundation, and for being President of the Yemen Center for Transitional Justice. It was accepted for him by the eminent Mohamed Amer (Egypt). Edmund Klein (1921-1999), the Father of Modern Immunotherapy, was an Austrian born, British-, Canadian- and American-educated dermatologist whose work was recognized with the Lasker Award for pioneering cancer immunotherapy. The WHA First Annual Gunther S. Stent Award recipient was Nawaf Al-Mutaire (Kuwait), for “Innovative Excellence in Science and Education.” University of California Berkeley molecular biology professor Gunter S. Stent (1924-2008) was renowned for both his scientific work and his innovative teaching style. The WHA First Annual Dermatologist-of-the-Year was Jana Hercogova (Czech Republic) (Fig 4). The WHA Gold Medal went to Kurt Wüthrich (Switzerland). The pivotal contributions of Vitiligo Research Foundation Founder and President Dmitry Aksenov (Russia) (Fig 3) and Chief Executive Officer Yan Valle (Canada) (Fig 5) were recognized by special awards. The Vitiligo Research Foundation component proved extraordinarily successful, receiving accolades too (Fig 5). Colegio Ibero LatinoAmericano de Dermatología President Jorge Ocampo Candiani and China Medical University President Zhao Qun were each also given a special award, the latter accepted by Xing-Hua Gao and Hong-Duo Chen. The Christmas season was saluted in Kitzbühel too, complete with Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and joyful camaraderie (Fig 7).
Fig 1. Lecture hall discussion: Paolo R. Cunha, Torello M. Lotti, Jana Hercogová, Robert A. Schwartz, Omar Lupi, Shyam Verma, Nobelist Kurt Wüthrich, Jorge Ocampo Candiani, and Brian W. Lee (left to right)
Fig 2. WHA Honorary Congress President Klaus Wolff, Nobelist Kurt Wüthrich admired by three elegant Brazilian dermatologists, WHA Secretary-General Torello M. Lotti, Paolo R. Cunha, and WHA President Robert A. Schwartz (left to right)
Fig 3. Jana Hercogová proclaimed WHA Dermatologist-of-the-Year: Nobelist Kurt Wüthrich, WHA Secretary-General Torello M. Lotti, Honorary Congress President Klaus Wolff, Jana Hercogová, WHA President Robert A. Schwartz, and Honorary Congress President Hong-Duo Chen (left to right)
Fig 4. Vitiligo Research Foundation Founder and President Dmitry Aksenov addresses the assemblage as he receives special recognition: Daniel M. Siegel, Michael D. Tharp, Robert A. Schwartz, Medhat Abdelmalek, Dmitry Aksenov, and Jana Hercogová (left to right)
Fig 5. Yan Valle’s contributions recognized: WHA Secretary-General Torello M. Lotti, Nobelist Kurt Wüthrich, Jana Hercogová, Yan Valle, and WHA President Robert A. Schwartz (left to right)
Fig 6. Vitiligo Research Foundation specialists gather to target an important disease
Fig 7. Christmas in Kitzbühel: John E. Harris, Youwen Zhou, and Robert A. Schwartz relaxed with Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and ebulliant camaraderie
Robert A. Schwartz MD, MPH
Newark, New Jersey, USA
I support the petition to designate June 25 as Vitiligo World Day and save millions of people worldwide from social isolation and persecution.
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