Yale School of Medicine Appoints Keith Choate, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Dermatology
· Filed In: Healthcare News
Keith Choate, MD ’04, PhD ’01, will become chair of the Department of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and chief of Dermatology of Yale New Haven Hospital effective October 1, 2022. Choate will also work collaboratively with delivery network leadership to advance dermatological services across Yale New Haven Health System.
Choate is associate dean for physician-scientist development; professor of dermatology, pathology, and genetics; director of research for the Department of Dermatology; and co-director of Dermatology’s Physician-Scientist Development Program. After earning his PhD in cell biology and MD from Yale School of Medicine, he completed his residency in dermatology and a fellowship in dermatology and genetics at Yale, joining the faculty in 2009.
An active clinician specializing in genetic skin disorders, Dr. Choate is widely recognized for his research in rare skin and systemic disorders. His NIH-funded research draws on molecular genetics to reveal unexpected mechanisms for disease pathogenesis and has led to the identification of genetic defects in more than 18 rare disorders, providing fundamental insights about disease pathophysiology. This work, which reflects collaborative efforts with clinicians internationally, with investigators at Yale, and with patients and advocacy groups, has allowed Choate and his colleagues to develop effective therapeutics for previously untreatable disorders.
A dedicated educator and mentor, Choate has devoted time and attention to training undergraduates, medical students, residents, and fellows. Through his roles as associate dean for physician-scientist development, director of research for Dermatology, co-director of Dermatology’s Training in Investigative Dermatology T32 Program, and associate director of the MD-PhD Program, he has demonstrated a commitment to mentorship and sponsorship, diversity and inclusion, professional development, and collaboration for faculty and trainees.
As chair, Choate will expand Dermatology’s clinical presence, research funding, and faculty. He will continue to develop a research program in Dermatology that spans clinical trials, disease-focused clinical research, and basic and translational research. He also will seek to cultivate mentorship at all levels and facilitate collaboration within the clinical and research environments.
Choate succeeds Rick Edelson, MD '70, who has led the department for the past 36 years. See this recent interview with Choate in Yale Medicine Magazine.
About Yale School of Medicine:
The school was established in 1810 as the Medical Institution of Yale College. The current name, Yale School of Medicine, was adopted in 1918.
Milton C. Winternitz, who served as dean from 1920 to 1935, was the architect of the school’s unique educational philosophy, the Yale system of medical education, which emphasizes critical thinking in a nongraded, noncompetitive environment and requires students to write a thesis based on original research.
Harvey Cushing, widely regarded as the father of American neurosurgery and a seminal figure in American medicine, joined the faculty late in his career and donated his extensive collection of books to Yale. The medical school library, which bears his name, is regarded as one of the great medical historical libraries of the world.
YSM’s historical contributions to medicine include the first X-ray performed in the United States, the first successful use of penicillin in America, the first use of cancer chemotherapy, and the introduction of fetal heart monitoring, natural childbirth and newborn rooming-in. Yale doctors designed the first artificial heart pump and the first insulin infusion pump for diabetes, and it was here that the means of transmission of the polio virus was established, paving the way for the Salk vaccine. Lyme disease was identified by two Yale physicians in 1975.
More recent milestones include the first transgenic mouse, discovery of the mechanism of protein folding, which is key to understanding neurodegenerative diseases, and discovery of the mechanism of innate immunity, with major implications for infectious disease and cancer. Additional highlights include the first reliable method for early detection of autism and identification of genes associated with hypertension, macular degeneration, dyslexia, and Tourette’s syndrome, among many others.
About Keith Choate, MD, PhD:
Keith Choate, MD, PhD, is a professor of dermatology, genetics and pathology at Yale School of Medicine and a medical dermatologist who treats patients with a variety of skin conditions, including skin cancer, severe acne, psoriasis, and other conditions upon referral by a dermatologist. His expertise in genetic skin disorders leads to referrals from across the country and around the world. Regarding the complex cases he sees, Dr. Choate says, “There's nothing better than solving a medical mystery, and it’s enormously gratifying to see patients get better.”
He reports that some patients have seen many other doctors before coming to Yale Medicine Dermatology, and that they are surprised to discover how things are done differently at Yale Medicine. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Choate and others in the department bring insights from scientific investigation and clinical trials to patient care. “At the end of the day, there's always an answer to complex skin problems if we are willing to work together toward finding a solution,” says Dr. Choate.
Dr. Choate is co-chief of dermatology at the Saint Raphael campus, director of research of the Yale Medicine Department of Dermatology, and an associate director of the Yale Medical Scientist Program. He reports that “having the opportunity to train the next generation of clinicians and physician-scientists who will shape medicine is an inspiring part of what I do.”
In his own research, Dr. Choate employs genetic tool and biologic investigation to find solutions for other genetic disorders such as ichthyosis, palmoplantar keratoderma and disorders appearing in patches or stripes on the skin. These include mosaic manifestations of acne, lichen planus, lupus and psoriasis.
To that end, Dr. Choate has recently published research on a group of severe, genetic skin conditions called ichthyosis, which cause dry, scaly or thickened skin. They affect about 200,000 people and can be disfiguring. In his new research, he and colleagues found a commonly used acne medication called isotretinoin (Accutane), counteracts the effects of the genetic mutations the disorder causes. “In two patients who’ve utilized it, the medication has cured the disease,” Dr. Choate says.
“Yale Medicine’s approach to patient care, disease-centered research, and education gives me a unique opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives. This is why I come to work every day,” Dr. Choate says.