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History & Founder

Dr. Wilma Bergfeld

Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD, FACP, founded the Women’s Dermatologic Society in 1973 and served as the first president to the organization from 1973-1979. She has been involved in every layer of WDS from serving on various committees to helping create and publish WDS’s Petals & Pearls book. In 1996, she received the WDS Rose Hirschler Award, which honors an outstanding physician who has contributed to medicine and dermatology while enhancing the role of women in the field of dermatology. Dr. Bergfeld was the first honoree at the inaugural WDS Legacy Celebration in 2013 and has mentored numerous residents through the WDS Mentorship Award Program. Aside from WDS, Dr. Bergfeld was elected president of the American Academy of Dermatology in 1992; the first female dermatologist to hold this position. 

Dr. Bergfeld is currently the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatopathology Fellowship and Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Educational Foundation. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University. She serves as a consultant to the Department of Sports Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Bergfeld’s specialty interests include clinical dermatology (hair disorders, androgen excess, photoaging, and cosmetic dermatology) and dermatopathology.   

Dr. Bergfeld completed her undergraduate work at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and is a graduate of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She completed her dermatology residency at Cleveland Clinic and her dermatopathology fellowship at Armed Forces of Pathology in Washington DC. Dr. Bergfeld is married to John A. Bergfeld, MD, an internationally known sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. 


Wilma Bergfeld, MD, FACP

The History of WDS 

The Women’s Dermatologic Society was formed when Walter Shelley, MD asked Miriam Reed, MD to speak to Wilma Bergfeld, MD, about the lack of women’s participation as lecturers at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting. The group started with a handful of women and Dr. Walter Shelley about 40 years ago.

The reason for its existence was to encourage women with advice from colleagues on how to lecture, time manage, be better dermatologists, write grants, reach major elected offices in the AAD and explore the many talents we have as women. Many men realized the value of this endeavor and our male dermatology colleagues joined us, and the once small group of WDS members now numbers over 1,400 members in 33 countries.

Our activities in mentoring, service, and networking have helped younger dermatologists succeed and this has furthered the community and our specialty of dermatology greatly. The enthusiasm of young dermatologists meeting more mature dermatologists has allowed the blossoming of many new people in our specialty and the elegance of the Women’s Dermatologic Society has permeated all of dermatology.

The Women's Dermatologic Society, founded in 1973, is dedicated to helping dermatologists fulfill their greatest potential and assisting them in making a contribution to our specialty and society. To achieve this goal, the Society relies on the active participation of its members, who represent a diverse cross-section of professional sub-specialties. 


In The Beginning
The start of WDS as told by Dr. Wilma Bergfeld
(click the link above to read)                                  
Last updated: March 16, 2017