James J. Leyden, MD Professor of Clinical Investigation

leydenEstablished in 2021, this Chair honors Dr. Leyden’s more than 50 years of service to the Department of Dermatology and the Perelman School of Medicine. Like Dr. Leyden’s many achievements, the Leyden Professorship supports the continued excellence of Penn Dermatology.

Dr. Leyden could easily have missed out on a career in medicine. As a student at St. Joseph’s Preperatory School, he seemed headed for college and then law school, a path many other family members had traveled. However, based on results of a vocational aptitude test, a guidance counselor informed him that he really needed to become a doctor. As an undergraduate, Dr. Leyden majored in philosophy, but took some science courses. He grew curious enough about his alleged aptitude that he applied to medical school. When he got to experience different specialties fulltime during rotations in his third and fourth years, he truly fell for the medical profession.

Dr. Leyden graduated from the Perelman School of Medicine in 1970. After getting to know the outstanding faculty in the Department of Dermatology, he became a resident. He joined the faculty in 1973 and became Chief of Clinical Services. Overall, he served Penn Dermatology as a Professor and Professor Emeritus for over 50 years.

Dr. Leyden spent many years doing clinical studies on acne, diaper rash, seborrheic dermatitis, tinea and many other skin disorders. He helped to develop and commercialize a variety of topical and oral medications for acne and for fungal and bacterial infections. During his career, he authored and edited five textbooks, 45 chapters and reviews, and more than 350 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Leyden served as Director of the American Academy of Dermatology and Chairman of the Board of the Dermatology Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including five from the American Academy of Dermatology and the Dermatology Foundation’s Distinguished Service Medallion. He has also been incredibly generous to the field of Dermatology, especially through the Dermatology Foundation, which has supported Penn Dermatology immensely.

“When people ask me if I’m still working,” he said, “I say I have never worked a day in my life. I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital, to get to the lab. I didn’t want to go home at night, I loved my work so much.” The Leyden Professorship will help other faculty members follow in his footsteps.

gelfandCurrent Chairholder

Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE

Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE is the James J. Leyden, MD Professor of Clinical Investigation and Professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He is also Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Medical Director of the Dermatology Clinical Studies Unit, and Director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Treatment Center. He is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in psoriasis, clinical epidemiology, drug safety, and clinical trials.  

Dr. Gelfand is the author of over 330 scientific publications, editorials, reviews, and textbook chapters (cited over 33,000 times, H index 93). His work appears in journals such as JAMA, BMJ (British Medical Journal), European Heart Journal, Annals of Rheumatic Disease, JAMA Dermatology, JAAD (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology), and the JID (.Journal of Infectious Diseases). He is a past Associate Editor of Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, past Editorial Board Member of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, and is currently Deputy Editor of Clinical Research and Epidemiology for the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. At the University, his honors include Penn’s Marjorie Bowman New Investigator Research Award, the Lady Barbara Colyton’s Award for Autoimmune Research, and Penn’s Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology’s Epidemiology Teaching Award. He has also earned the American Skin Association’s Psoriasis Achievement Award, the National Psoriasis Foundation’s (NPF) inaugural award for scientific achievement and the American Dermato-epidemiology Network’s Founders Award. He received a Presidential Citation for psoriasis research from the American Academy of Dermatology and is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Dermatological Association.  

Dr. Gelfand co-chairs the NPF’s COVID-19 task force and is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Psoriasis Council. He is a co-author of the AAD-NPF joint guidelines of care for psoriasis. He has given over 10 named lectureships and keynote addresses, including the Society for Investigative Dermatology’s Eugene M. Farber lecture and the American Academy of Dermatology’s Marion B. Sulzberger lecture. He has received over $30 million in grant support from the NIH, FDA, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the National Psoriasis Foundation, the Dermatology Foundation, the American Skin Association, and numerous pharmaceutical companies to support his independent research program. His research redefined psoriasis, a condition affecting 125 million people worldwide, as a systemic inflammatory disease that enhances the risk of cardiovascular events and premature mortality, resulting in changes in standard of care guidelines internationally. The overarching goal of his research and clinical practice is to improve psoriasis patient outcomes in the skin and joints while lowering the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.