A Conversation with Dr. Perry Robins | 2021 Dermatology Hall of Fame Inductee

Celebrating those who advance dermatology

The Dermatology Hall of Fame celebrates dermatologists and others who have contributed to the advancement of the dermatology profession. Created in 2017, the DHoF’s mission includes applauding achievement, promoting education, and remembering the history of dermatology.

This year’s inductees include a list of esteemed doctors that have advanced the field of dermatology.

We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Perry Robins about his career, being inducted into the Dermatology Hall of Fame, and the advice he has for young dermatologists and residents just starting out.

NSiD:  How does it feel to be recognized by The Dermatology Hall of Fame for your work?

Dr. Robins: It’s very rewarding to know that all the hard work that went into accomplishing what I managed in the last few years is appreciated and also to see that it has been accepted and now is part of the standard training in dermatology.

NSiD:  What is your advice for young dermatologists and residents just starting their careers? 

Dr. Robins: My advice is that if you believe in something that has merit, don’t let naysayers discourage you. The projects I started, Mohs surgery, The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery, and the Skin Cancer Foundation, were all met with rejection.

When I started Mohs, I had zero training in derm surgery, and in my three years of derm residency, I removed one sliver of tissue, a biopsy. After spending a month with Dr. Fred Mohs, I came back and started Mohs Surgery for New York University Medical Center. Everyone said, “no no no you are going to give us a bad reputation, you have no training in surgery and it’s going to be detrimental to our specialty.” Fortunately, The Mohs Sugery Unit was set up as a joint venture with the plastic surgery department, and Dr. John Marquis Converse, Chairmen of that department, arranged an exchange student, Dr. Hugh Brown, to work with me for a year. He taught me surgery, and I taught him dermatopathology.

My next accomplishment was a journal. At a meeting with colleagues of ASDS, [American Society for Dermatologic Surgery], I said we needed a journal. They said ok you do it. When I was ready to publish the first issue, a few officers of the society came by my office and forbid me from doing it, gave no support. I lost money, but it served a purpose. 

The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery

Today, the JDS is one of the leading journals in dermatology. When we started, it was mailed to all dermatologists, free of charge. It became instantly successful, in spite of no aid or support from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery for the first ten years of publication.

Furthermore, when I started the Skin Cancer Foundation, a lot of people said no no no, you are taking money from the derm foundation, and I said, no, it’s my patients that are supporting us. They knocked down my booth at the academy, threw the materials on the floor, and told me to leave. I persisted and now the Skin Cancer Foundation is a household name. 

NSiD:  Dr. Robins, what has been the proudest moment of your esteemed career?

Without hesitation, Dr. Robins replied, “Meeting Dr. Marcia Wilf and partnering with her for the last 15 years. That’s the great achievement of my career, being with Marcia and becoming a team. If I’m not up for it, she’s prepared to give my lectures.”

Congratulations on being recognized

Dr. Perry Robins is an inspiration to those that have surrounded him throughout his career, and to those just learning about his impact on the field of dermatology, dermatologic surgery, and skin cancer. Congratulations! 

The 2021 Dermatology Hall of Fame Inductees

    • Diane Romayne Baker, MD
    • Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD
    • Clay J. Cockerell, MD
    • Roger I. Ceilley, MD
    • Lynn A. Drake, MD
    • Boni E. Elewski, MD
    • William Hanke, MD
    • Joseph L. Jorizzo, MD
    • Perry Robins, MD
    • Daniel Mark Siegel, MD

About Perry Robins, MD

Perry Robins, MD is a dermatologist, pioneer, and promoter of Mohs and dermatologic surgery. He established the first formal training program in Mohs surgery.

Dr. Robins grew up in New Jersey and was the first person in his family to attend college. With assistance from the GI Bill, he was able to attend Heidelberg University School of Medicine in Germany and, after completing dermatology training he set up practice at NYU.

Dr. Robins founded the International Society of Dermatologic Surgeons, the Skin Cancer Foundation, the Dermatologic Surgery journal, and the Journal of the Skin Cancer Foundation.

In his 50 years of practice, he performed more than 47,000 Mohs surgeries. He has operated on royals and paupers alike. He has taught Mohs surgery in nearly 50 countries and in four languages.

At the time of his induction, as many as 40 percent of fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons can trace their training back to Dr. Robins. His trainees became the leaders who facilitated the rapid advance of Mohs and dermatologic surgery worldwide.

Read Dr. Robins’ life story Saving Our Skin: A Surgeon’s Story of Tenacity, Adventure and Giving Back, Perry Robins M.D.; Bain, Julie. River Grove Press. Available on Amazon.

Show your support

The Dermatology Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization. DHoF receives support from individuals who celebrate dermatology and its history.

To support DHoF’s mission or to contribute to the organization in the name of an inductee contact[email protected]. All donated funds go to the improvement or maintenance of the organization.

To see the full list of inductees and read about their esteemed careers, click here.