A Tribute to Professor Wolfram Sterry

21 September 2020

Past-President (2011-2015) of the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS)

Professor Wolfram Sterry presenting at the ILDS World Skin Summit in Berlin, 2012

Professor Wolfram Sterry (1949-2020)

It is with great sadness that we reflect on the news of Professor Wolfram Sterry’s passing in Munich on Saturday 19 September 2020. It is also with gratitude and pride that we remember him and honour his contributions to dermatology and to the global dermatology community.

Wolfram Sterry was a brilliant dermatologist; a distinguished clinician; an accomplished scientist; and a visionary leader. He was a skilled musician with an appreciation for the arts and music. He brought enthusiasm, energy and passion to all parts of his work and life. Although on first appearance Wolfram appeared to be a formal man, this concealed someone of great warmth and enthusiasm, that manifested in different ways, whether through his great love of the science of dermatology, remarkable care for patients and also, amongst others, his passion for cooking, gardening and his olive trees.

Professor Sterry was born on 5 March 1949 in Marbach am Neckar in Germany. He completed his specialist training in dermatology and venerology at the University Dermatology Clinic Cologne between 1978 and 1982. He served as Director of the Dermatology Clinic of Ulm University from 1991-1994 before moving to the Charité University of Medicine Berlin. At the Charité, between 1994 and 2011, he served as full Professor and Director of the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology. From 1995-1997, he also served as the Dean of the Medical Faculty Charité, Humboldt University Berlin.

ILDS Board Directors 2011-2015

Professor Sterry made significant contributions to dermatology at the national, regional and international levels including, for example, the early and continuous promotion of evidence-based guidelines for the management of skin diseases. He served on the ILDS Board of Directors for more than 15 years (2002-2019) and as President from 2011 to 2015. He served the ILDS and the global dermatology community with great distinction. His vision during his term as ILDS President led to the creation of the Grand Challenges in Global Skin Health initiative which includes a number of successful projects and activities such as the Global Psoriasis Atlas, in addition to introducing the ILDS World Skin Summit as an entity in 2012. During this time, ILDS’ influence on global dermatological health, through its collaboration with the World Health Organization, went from strength to strength. These activities have led to positive developments in policy and practice which we are now seeing across a wide range of skin health issues, from the international classification of diseases through to neglected tropical diseases and the skin ageing and healthy life course initiative.

Professor Sterry also contributed as President and/or a member of the Board of a number of national and European dermatological societies including as a founding father of the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) and as President of the European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR).

The world of dermatology will benefit from his legacy for many years to come. We are honoured to have known Wolfram and will remember him fondly. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Lars French on behalf of the ILDS Board of Directors

Tributes to Professor Sterry:
European Dermatology Forum (EDF)
European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR)
International Psoriasis Council (IPC)