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Whats New at UMass Dermatology

What’s New in the Department of Dermatology?

There is a lot going on in our department!

Honors and Awards: 

Dr. Dori Goldberg was awarded the Dermatology Chief Resident Educator of the Year Award at Graduation 2023!

The Mary E. Maloney Education Fund was established in 2023 in honor of our founding chair, Dr. Mary Maloney, to provide financial support for students from underrepresented backgrounds and/or who are socioeconomically disadvantaged to rotate in the UMass Department of Dermatology.

Dr. Sarah Whitley received an Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation Mentorship Experience Award and spent two weeks training with Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi on HS laser surgery.

Dr. Nikki Levin received an award for her “Outstanding Contributions to JAAD” in 2023.

Drs. Holly Neale and Bella Plumptre both received 2023 PeDRA Annual Conference Travel Scholarships. Dr. Neale will be presenting her work on noninvasive molecular testing for melanocytic nevi in children in Atlanta, GA.

Drs. Bella Plumptre, and Sarah Servattalab were awarded NEDS Preceptor Grants in 2022-2023. Dr. Plumptre will be working with colleagues at Dartmouth to develop a visual decision aid guide for the management of infantile hemangiomas and Dr. Servattalab will be working with colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital to explore differences in infantile atopic dermatitis disease severity and time to treatment based on race and ethnicity.  

Drs. Vijaya Daniel and Bella Plumptre were inducted in 2022 into the UMass chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society as residents for their dedication to scholarship, education and clinical service. 

New Faculty:

The following faculty members have joined our department in the last year:

Dr. Wei-Che Ko, MD- (completed residency training including 2+2 at UMass) allergic contact dermatitis, inflammatory skin disease research

Dr. Sarah Whitley, MD, PhD- (previously on faculty University of Pittsburgh) hidradenitis suppurativa, basic science/translational research

Dr. Todd Pearson, PhD- scientific director and grant writing

Dr. Diana Reusch, MD- (completed residency training at Harvard Combined Residency Training Program followed by pediatric dermatology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital)- pediatric dermatology, pediatric connective tissue disease

Dr. Zainab Abbas, MD- (completed residency training at UMass Dermatology)- clinical trials

AAD Leadership:

Dr. Bassel Mahmoud is a member of the Public Education Committee of the AAD. 

Dr. Rita Khodosh is the Chair of the AAD Patient Safety and Quality Committee

Specialty Society News:  

Dr. Sarah Servattalab, MD was reappointed to a second term as Pediatric Trainees Liaison for the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Dermatology.

Dr. Sarah Whitley was elected to the SID Committee on Education.

Dr. Jillian Richmond also serves on the SID education committee and was an organizer and moderator for the 2022 SID retreat.

Dr. Bella Plumptre was appointed to the Society for Pediatric Dermatology Junior Faculty and Fellows Committee.

Dr. Maggi Ahmed was named a Resident Liaison to the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery

Editorial Leadership:

Dr. Ryan Svoboda was appointed to the Editorial Board of the JAAD.

Dr. Bassel Mahmoud was appointed to the Editorial Board of the American Academy of Dermatology - Skin Healthy Magazine.

Dr. Nikki Levin is the senior associate editor for the JAAD

Dr. Mehdi Rashighi is on the Editorial Board of The FASEB Journal (Frontiers in Immunology) and also serves as a Dermatology Editor for VisualDx. 

Dr. Leah Belazarian, serves on the editorial board for Pediatric Dermatology. 

Dr. Jillian Richmond, PhD, serves on the editorial board for Frontiers in Immunology and the FASEB journal. 

Dr. Maggi Ahmed is an editor for the Vitiligo Newsletter released biannually by the Vitiligo Global Foundation and is a member of the Academic/Communication committee.

Faculty Appointments:

Dr. Nikki Levin was promoted to Professor of Dermatology

Dr. John Harris was named the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research at UMass Chan Medical School.

Residency Program:

We were granted an expansion of our residency program to a total of 12 residents and 2023-204 is the first year with our full group.  We will offer four positions in the 2023-24 NRMP match to start in 2025. We greatly appreciate the support of the UMass administration in allowing our expansion! 

Fellowship Programs:

Our Dermatopathology Fellowship welcomed Zoe Joel-Brown, MD for 2023-2024. Previous UMass residents, Vijaya Daniel, MD and Bella Plumptre, MBBS are our Procedural Dermatology and Pediatric Dermatology fellows, respectively, for 2023-2024. All three of our fellowship training programs are ACGME-accredited.

Clinic Activity:

UMass Dermatology was named the best dermatology clinic in the 2022 Best of Central Mass Awards!

Dr. Leah Belazarian was named Chief of the Pediatric Dermatology Section within the Departments of Dermatology and Pediatrics.

We have continued to grow our multidisciplinary and specialty clinics, including those in CTCL, transplant/high risk skin cancer, Rheum/Derm, Genodermatoses, Down syndrome, epidermolysis bullosa, hidradenitis suppurativa, laser, cosmetic, and MKTP for vitiligo. A psoriasis specialty clinic was started in July 2023 under the direction of Drs. Nikki Levin, Leah Belazarian, and Rita Khodosh.

With the guidance of Dr. Mark Scharf, we recently obtained a ruby laser to provide an additional treatment option to our patients with pigmentary disorders.

We have grown our access to patients across central Massachusetts with increased clinic space at Leominster and Westborough.

Mentorship: under the direction of Drs. Nikki Levin and Riley McLean-Mandell, we continue to have a very positive mentorship program with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, a school without a dermatology residency. The program includes monthly mentoring sessions with their Dermatology Interest Group and individual resident and faculty mentors for their students. We also provide a summer rotation between the 1st and 2nd years for two students came to Worcester to observe.  

Dr. Jillian Richmond served/serves as a mentor on Dermatology Foundation diversity research supplement awards for Warda Abdi, Nia James, Sachi Desse, Aisha Jamison and Jadé Olayinka.

Institutional Leadership:

Dr. Riley McLean-Mandell was appointed Medical Director for Green Initiatives at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Dr. Jillian Richmond (Dermatology) and Dr. Anindita Deb (Neurology) are co-directors of the new Pathways, Inquiry and Concentrations (PIC) course for the medical school Vista curriculum. You can read more about the program through our website and podcast: 

Dr. Sarah Servattalab was appointed to the UMass Graduate Medical Education Committee as Resident Representative.


Dr. John Harris received a $4M U01 award from the NIH to study how genetics influences vitiligo in a large, remote study population.

Dr. Jillian Richmond was awarded a Lupus Research Alliance Mechanisms and Targets Award $600,000 for 2023-2026.

Drs. Jillian Richmond and Cheryl London were awarded a $650,000 U01 from the NIH/NCI to generate immune oncology vaccines for canine cancer 2022-2027.

Janet Lubov received a $15,000 Lupus Research Alliance diversity research supplement award with Dr. Jillian Richmond as mentor.

Dr. Jillian Richmond was awarded a US DoD CDMRP LRP grant $120,000 for 2019-2021.

Dr. Jillian Richmond is leading article collections for the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) for T cell methods and skin research methods.

Dr. Jillian Richmond, PhD is co-organizer of the Global Dermatology Talks seminar series, a free seminar series to promote accessible dermatology education.

Drs. Mehdi Rashighi, and Jillian Richmond, each received a Pilot Project Program award from the UMass Chan CCTS for their studies of dermatomyositis and cutaneous lupus erythematosus 

Dr. Ryan Svoboda is a site PI for a new trial on CTCL.

Under the direction of Drs. Jessica St. John and Sarah Whitley, the Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) Clinic and Research Center has been established under UMass Medical Center and UMass Chan Medical school. This Center will provide multidisciplinary, patient-centered care for patients with HS as well as lead clinical trials and coordinate efforts to advance knowledge in this field.

Dr. Sarah Whitley received a Translational Research Grant Award of $75,000 from the HS Foundation for her project entitled “Pain Mechanisms in Hidradenitis Suppurativa” as well as a NIH Extramural Loan Repayment Grant and AbbVie provision of the drug Botox for the following Investigator Initiated Study (IIS): “Targeting nociceptors to reduce pain and inflammation in hidradenitis suppurativa” (NCT05403710)

Dr. Sarah Whitley is the PI for M23-698, A phase 3 randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study to evaluate efficacy and safety of upadacitinib in adult and adolescent subjects with moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa who have failed anti-TNF therapy. (Sponsor: AbbVie)

Dr. Bassel Mahmoud was a Cutting-Edge Research Grant recipient for the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) and also received a grant from the American Skin Association (ASA) to investigate vitiligo/pigment cell disorders. He is currently working on outcomes of Mohs Micrographic surgery and excision for patients with melanoma in situ, multiple studies on non-melanoma skin cancers and Mohs surgery related to tumor subtypes, noninvasive optical imaging for preop skin cancer delineation, and on different modalities of resurfacing for MKTP. 

Dr. Karen Wiss has enrolled about 95 patients in the multicenter EBCRC data collection trial.  UMass has been treating children as part of the Abeona Therapeutics Keratinocyte Gene Transfer RDEB trial.

Volunteer Activities:

“WooDerm” was founded by Dr. Sarah Servattalab, which is a resident and medical student-led, faculty-supported volunteer initiative aimed at providing free and accessible dermatologic care to the Worcester community to those in need. The organization’s first clinic was held in September 2023 thanks to her efforts alongside a long list of others in our department/community.

Multiple UMass Chan physicians, staff and medical students volunteer for the annual AAD Camp Discovery Connecticut and were able to hold camp again in 2023. Drs. Dori Goldberg, and Karen Wiss, are camp founders and co-directors.

Under the direction of Dr. Jessica St. John, we are ready for another evening of skin cancer screening at Worcester’s Polar Park for our local firefighters. We resumed our annual skin cancer screening day in spring 2023 under the direction of Dr. Dori Goldberg.

Dr. Sarah Whitley led a Women’s in Dermatology Society outreach project at the Abby House shelter with UMass medical student Christine Li in January 2023.

Dr. Nikki Levin continues to volunteer regularly at Metrowest Free Medical Clinic and many of our faculty also donate their time performing screenings at local firehouses.