I’m a Chilean dermatologist who has specialized in cutaneous immune-mediated diseases since completing my Dermatology residency. I also pursued a master’s degree in systemic autoimmune diseases at the University of Barcelona, Spain. When I returned to Chile, I rejoined my work team at the Faculty of Medicine of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where I began as an Instructor working for the Dermatology residency program. During this time, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Claudia de la Cruz at Clinica Dermacross. She encouraged me to deepen my knowledge in the management of psoriasis in clinical practice and research.
Through my collaboration with Dr. de la Cruz, I became acquainted with the International Psoriasis Council (IPC) and participated in the IPC Psoriasis Masterclass organized by IPC’s Latin American Working Group. The expertise and dedication of the IPC’s clinical experts, Councilors, and members greatly impressed me. I realized the immense potential of this institution in terms of education and raising awareness about psoriasis as a disease that deserves recognition, evaluation, and management according to the highest standards, regardless of geographical location.
That’s how I learned about the 2022 IPC International Fellowship Program application process. I was convinced that this experience would allow me to advance my knowledge of psoriasis and gain a comprehensive understanding of the disease, benefiting my patients and my professional environment.
It’s challenging to summarize in a single answer how the IPC has influenced both my professional practice and personal development. Throughout 2022, we had virtual meetings that included excellent talks and discussion sessions led by IPC Councilors and Board Members with extensive clinical and research experience. In addition, I had the opportunity to visit renowned psoriasis management centers in person, such as the PsoPlus Clinic in Ghent, Belgium, led by IPC Councilor Prof. Jo Lambert, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, UK, in the company of esteemed IPC Councilors like Prof. Jonathan Barker, Dr. Andrew Pink and Dr. Satveer Mahil, and IPC Board Member Dr. Catherine Smith.
On a personal level, this program allowed me to connect with exceptional clinicians and individuals who are constantly striving to make a greater impact and advance with the help of their patients. Being in contact with these remarkable individuals was immensely significant to me, as I felt their support and genuine interest in sharing their experiences right from the start. Being part of this wonderful community has connected me with diverse realities, perspectives, and cultures, all united by respect and gratitude toward our peers, colleagues, and patients.
Professionally, I am profoundly grateful to the outstanding team with whom I had the pleasure of sharing this fellowship year. The various classes and discussions throughout the program provided a unique opportunity to share insights, apply knowledge to practice, and engage in thought-provoking group discussions.
“The program offers a remarkable platform to foster collaboration among its diverse community.”
My future interests revolve around continuously improving the care we provide patients with psoriasis, encompassing clinical activities and research. The learnings from the program’s classes and on-site observation visits have equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver optimal care for psoriasis patients.
Moreover, the interactions with IPC Councilors have served as inspiring role models, showcasing their research activities and motivating us to pursue our own projects. The program encourages us to contribute from our respective contexts and corners of the world, constantly striving to generate new knowledge and stay updated on the latest advancements in psoriasis.
One of my notable achievements during the program was the establishment of a specialized psoriasis clinic at our hospital, where we conduct clinical and teaching activities. Creating this dedicated program allowed us to deliver the quality of care our patients truly deserved, following a multidisciplinary approach. Concepts related to the value-based healthcare model, essential processes, and team building were all part of my learnings from the on-site visit to the PsoPlus team at Ghent Hospital, guided by my mentor, Prof. Jo Lambert.
The program offers a remarkable platform to foster collaboration among its diverse community. Through multiple training sessions, I had the opportunity to connect with exceptional clinical experts in psoriasis, evident from the high level of participation by IPC experts in these activities. The shared commitment to providing the best care and medicine for patients with psoriasis transcends boundaries of geography, language, and time zones. This shared dedication often leads to collaborative initiatives, enabling us to explore new realities and forge connections with one another, continuously advancing as professionals.
Since becoming an IPC Fellow, I have interacted with numerous colleagues from Latin America and other continents. We are united in our efforts to improve the care of patients with psoriasis.
As mentioned earlier, my mentor throughout the program was Prof. Jo Lambert from Ghent Hospital, Belgium. Throughout the year, we maintained regular contact and I am deeply grateful to her and the entire PsoGent team for their willingness to make this Fellowship a tremendous learning experience. They introduced me to their research activities and model of high-quality care for psoriatic patients. I also had the privilege of visiting Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital – St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, where I had the incredible opportunity to engage with colleagues in clinics specializing in immune-mediated skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, hidradenitis suppurativa, and blistering diseases. Additionally, I learned from the inpatient unit led by Dr. Richard Woolf and the clinical trials unit. This experience broadened my horizons and enriched my clinical practice.
Furthermore, I had the pleasure of connecting with two excellent co-mentors on the following topics: “Office Efficiency and EMR Optimization in Starting and Monitoring cDMARDs and bDMARDs and Virtual Assessments” with Dr. Ron Vender, and “Real-world Evidence and Registries” with Prof. Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf. Both instances provided valuable discussions on the significance of robust clinical records, time optimization, and monitoring and follow-up of patients receiving systemic therapies.
I must take a moment to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the support provided by the IPC Staff, particularly the dedication and motivation of Nicora Gardner and Maureen Hogle throughout the program activities.
My foremost recommendation would be to seize the opportunity and apply for this incredible program. The experience is bound to enrich you in every aspect, be it academia, research, personal growth, and more. It offers an unparalleled chance to connect with an amazing network of experts driven by the pursuit of excellence in patient care and to share this knowledge and expertise with Fellows from around the world.
This program stands out due to several distinguishing features, three of which I’d like to emphasize:
Firstly, the program’s flexibility allows applicants to choose a mentor from virtually anywhere in the world. The extensive network of IPC Councilors spanning different regions enables this possibility and offers a diversity of academic centers to which you can apply. This provides a significant advantage, as you can align your application with the research interests of various institutions and find a mentor whose work aligns with your personal interests.
Secondly, the one-to-one mentorship model ensures a highly personalized experience, allowing the objectives for the year and the on-site visit to be tailored to the specific needs and interests of each Fellow.
Lastly, being part of a cohort of Fellows in the same year fosters camaraderie facilitates the sharing of experiences, and enables the formation of new friendships and connections with colleagues from diverse parts of the world. This sense of community is invaluable, motivating us to continue advancing our respective careers and collectively driving progress in psoriasis research and care.
If you are a young dermatologist or researcher that is passionate about improving the lives of people with psoriasis and wants to expand your horizons, consider applying to participate in the IPC’s International Fellowship Program. Applications for the 2024 program will open this September.