The chair’s establishment comes in response to growing calls from clinicians, researchers and patients to address longstanding gaps and inequities in dermatological research, education and patient care. In particular, there is increased recognition of the need for new investigations into the distinct impacts of skin conditions on patients of colour, for better and more in-depth data on the disparities in dermatological care provided to different populations, as well as for greater representation of skin of colour in medical education programs and curricula.
“Richly-pigmented skin is not the same in many ways — the biochemistry, biology and diseases that affect it are different,” says Dr. Marissa Joseph, assistant professor with U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine and medical director of the RKS Dermatology Centre at Women’s College Hospital. “By not studying and learning the differences in presentation of disease in skin of colour, there’s an increased likelihood of misdiagnosis, treatment delays, and/or the application of inappropriate treatment approaches – all of which can have catastrophic impacts on patients. As a clinician and educator, I welcome the creation of the AbbVie Chair in Ethnodermatology and believe it can be a powerful catalyst for change.”
The need for AbbVie’s gift has also never been more relevant – nor more pressing – than it is today. According to Statistics Canada demographic projections, the proportion of Canadians who belong to a visible minority group will increase greatly by 2031. Visible minority groups could soon comprise 63 per cent of the population of Toronto, 59 per cent of Vancouver and 31 per cent of Montreal.
The inaugural chairholder will have a broad educational and research mandate. This will include leading the development of curricula to ensure future physicians and dermatologists are adequately trained to diagnose and treat skin conditions in persons of colour and to apply principles of inclusive dermatology, as well as undertaking much-needed clinical investigations into skin disorders and diseases’ distinct impact on people of colour.
Tracey Ramsay, Vice-President and General Manager of AbbVie Canada adds, “We believe it is important to ensure all Canadians have equal, fair and inclusive disease care. Equality, diversity and inclusion are among our core corporate principles and the creation of this chair is a step forward in enhancing dermatology diversity and cultural inclusion. Together with U of T, we have an opportunity to be part of a solution that will evolve the way skin care is researched, taught and practised in Canada and hopefully across the globe.”
Dr. Christina Pelizon, Country Medical Director, AbbVie Canada adds; “We’re focused on delivering treatments in areas of high unmet medical need and as a leader in dermatology research and treatment, AbbVie is committed to the pursuit of innovation. Ultimately, this Chair will provide us a better understanding on how we can continue to make a remarkable impact on the lives of people living with serious skin diseases.”