Young Dermatologist Achievement Award 2019: Helmut Beltraminelli

2 December 2019

Every four years, in conjunction with the World Congress of Dermatology, the ILDS recognises young dermatologists who have made an outstanding contribution to international dermatology, particularly for patients in under-served areas of the world.

The Young Dermatologist Achievement Award (YDAA) is presented to five individuals during the Congress; one from each ILDS Region: Asia Pacific; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; South Asia, the Middle East and Africa; USA and Canada. Dr Helmut Beltraminelli was selected for the Europe region from the nominations submitted by ILDS Members.

Dr Amani and Dr Beltraminelli at the microscope in Bern, Switzerland

Helmut specialises in dermatology and dermatopathology and has a passion for humanitarian dermatology:

In 2009, during a six-month voluntary work assignment at the Regional Dermatology Training Centre (RDTC) in Moshi, Tanzania, I immediately realised the absolute need for dermatopathology services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, since 2009, a group of motivated experts have been running a project to develop dermatopathology in this region. We have received financial support from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), the International Society of Dermatology (ISD), the International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD), the International Society of Dermatopathology (ISDP), the University of Basel (Switzerland), and some private sources. I had the great fortune that my chief Prof. Luca Borradori — and some giants in the field of African dermatology such as Prof. Terence Ryan, Prof. Rod Hay, and Dr. Claire Fuller — enthusiastically supported the project from the very beginning. A big thank you goes to them, for their continuous generous support.

The strategy of our project is to invest in sustainable education. The main goal is to give a chance to motivated and talented African specialists (dermatologists or pathologists) to acquire expertise in dermatopathology in Europe/Western countries for at least one year, with the final goal to prepare them for the International Board Examination in Dermatopathology (IBED) in Frankfurt, Germany. These experts will then pass on their knowledge to other African colleagues, which ensures the sustainability of the project.

Our most important achievements are:

  • Six African fellows have already successfully passed the IBED Examination and are now working and teaching in their respective countries in Africa.
  • Dermatopathology services are now available in several African countries, where they were lacking only a few years ago.
  • The yearly organisation of an “African Dermatopathology Conference” (ADPC) in an African country since 2015. The 6th ADPC is scheduled for January 6-7, 2020 at the RDTC in Moshi, Tanzania.
  • The “African Dermatopathology Society” (ADPS) was founded in 2016. All committee members are African specialists.
  • Scientific activities including five posters, four publications and several lectures.
IMG 4156
The 2nd African Dermatopathology Conference in Moshi, Tanzania 2016

The YDAA was presented during the World Congress of Dermatology (WCD) in Milan, Italy. During the WCD, Helmut presented several lectures, including as chair of the ISD Sister Society Meeting (in collaboration with Dr Claire Fuller), a lecture in the session “Dermatopathology Worldwide – ISDP, ASDP, ESDP, SILADEPA, EADV Joint meeting – Dermatopathology makes a difference”, where he presented the project of developing dermatopathology in Africa. He also was invited as co-chair and speaker of a dermatopatholgy-session “Basic Dermatopathology”, which was an international session with experts from Africa, Europe, and Asia.

“It was a wonderful experience, a great chance to meet several experts and friends from different countries and very different realities but sharing the same passion of taking care of patients with a skin disease. As always at such events, I gained some pearls of knowledge, which I will use in my daily practice. There were so many dermatologists from all over the Globe; it is a great chance to be part of this large community. Everybody of us, despite the level of expertise, is just a small drop of water in a huge ocean.”