Dermatology in Arkansas can trace its roots to the arrival of William Bathurst in 1908. He served as the University of Arkansas’s first and only Dermatology professor until 1923. He was joined then by Robert Patterson who practiced with Bathurst until 1933 when Bathurst died and Patterson assumed his professorship. Upon Bathurst’s death that year, Ewell Thompson guided the specialty at the university through more formal organizational transition, aided by the establishment of the American Academy ofDermatology in 1938 and through the tumultuous times of World War II.Immediately after the war, there was an influx of dermatologists that moved to Little Rock including Lawrence Zell, Ellis Cope, and Ray Fulmer.But it was the return home of Calvin Dillaha in 1952 that would lay the groundwork to propel Arkansas into a more prominent national position for dermatologic care. Dr. Dillaha had a vision to develop a strong department of dermatology at the University of Arkansas, and this goal was realized when he was able to recruit Tom Jansen from Wisconsin to Little Rock with the lure of the “Land of Opportunity” in 1956.
Drs. Dillaha, Jansen, and later Mage Honeycutt, forged an incredible academic, clinical, and personal bond, publishing seminal works on the cause of acrodermatitis enteropathica, the first isolation of the venom from the brown recluse spider, and the development of 5-fluorouracil as a topical chemotherapeutic agent. Dr. Jansen often stated that his most important contribution to the field, however, was the emphasis he placed on developing the frozen section as a diagnostic technique after having worked with Frederick Mohs in Wisconsin.
The most critical impact these physicians made in our state, though, was the establishment of a formal Department of Dermatology, complete with are residency training program. Calvin Bradford was the first resident in the department in 1960. The program is now responsible for having trained over100 dermatologists.
Following the untimely death of Dr. Dillaha in 1969, Dr. Jansen had taken over as chairman of the department. It should be noted that he and Dr.Honeycutt (who also died early at the age of 48 in 1979), as well as many of the previously trained residents that remained in central Arkansas, performed their duties at the university in a purely voluntary capacity.After 26 years of service, Dr. Jansen decided it was time for the department to transition to full-time faculty with a chairman to direct the services. In 1983, Jere Guin was selected to fulfill that role. He hired many clinicians in his tenure, and the department became noted for its residency selection method through the national matching system. Dr. Guin attained prominence in the field of contact dermatitis, a study that remained his focus his entire career.
The department leadership changed again in 1996. Tom Horn became the first subspecialty-trained chairman. The emphasis on dermatopathology enhanced residency training at the university. Similarly to Dr. Dillaha, Dr. Horn recruited a special faculty member to his new department in Bruce Smoller. Together, the two would publish many articles, and, with the help of residents and faculty members like Sandy Johnson, would start a clinical trials unit. Their seminal work guides wart therapy today.
After the departure by Dr. Horn in 2007, John Ansel became chair.however, he was replaced the year after his tenure began in 2009 after passing away at age 60. Cheryl Armstrong, Ansel’s long-time colleague, assumed the department’s leadership role and continued in that capacity until 2013. The department has 10 faculty members including its longest-serving clinician, Jay Kincannon, who has been at UAMS for over 20 years.