By John S. Strauss, MD
The American Academy of Dermatology’s World Congress Fund celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the fund has provided over 300 scholarships to young dermatologists from 48 developing countries to attend the AAD Annual Meeting.
This perpetual fund for this activity was started following the 18th World Congress of Dermatology held in New York City in June of 1992. At that time, Dr. Stephen Katz was secretary general of the meeting and I served as president. More than 7,000 people attended the meeting — far more than we expected. The success of the meeting generated about $1.3 million in unexpected revenue. We decided to use this revenue to establish the World Congress Fund to support the attendance of young, promising dermatologists from developing countries at the AAD Annual Meeting.
The World Congress Fund Review Task Force reviews and sets policies and awarding priorities for scholarships, grants, and other appropriate international educational activities. A poster is necessary as an indication of scholarship from the young and promising dermatologists and they must be from developing countries. Up to two recipients per country are awarded each year. I want to emphasize that the scholarships are awarded based on the quality of abstracts submitted by the applicants. Successful applicants receive a stipend, complimentary registration for the AAD meeting, and one educational session.
A secondary but important function of the Fund is to support the participation of U.S. and Canadian dermatologists in interaction with international dermatologists through attendance at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting, held every five years, and other international meetings.
During the last 20 years, the World Congress Fund has been very successful. Those who’ve participated in the program have let us know how much they’ve benefited from the opportunity. The feedback we’ve received from many recipients makes it clear that the scholarship program has helped launch their careers as contributors to dermatology.
Our scholarships are designed to groom young dermatologists for future leadership roles. For this reason, applicants have to show evidence of scientific activity. They’re required to turn in a poster abstract for the AAD meeting they attend along with their application. Applicants for the poster program must be nationals of developing countries, and they must apply during their training or within three years of completing their dermatology residency at the time of the meeting. They must not have received a previous AAD reward. The AAD’s World Congress Fund task force reviews all applications and names award recipients. Deadline to submit applications for the 2014 Annual Meeting is July 31, 2013.
Dr. Strauss is currently an emeritus professor of dermatology at the Univ. of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. He previously served in multiple positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and the University of Iowa, where he was head of the department of dermatology for 20 years. He is a past president of the World Congress of Dermatology, the International Committee of Dermatology, and the International League of Dermatological Societies. He is a past president of the AAD, the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the American Dermatological Assoc., and the American Board of Dermatology.