March 31, 2023 – My name is Morgan Dykman and I am a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota. As the PeDRA Fellow, I am fortunate to have many opportunities, including representing PeDRA at meetings and events. I recently attended the world renowned American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, where I enjoyed numerous talks by peds derm rockstars, met fellow PeDRA members in person for the first time, and participated in PeDRA partnership meetings.
Admittedly, the Pre-AAD SPD Meeting and AAD Conference hosted more amazing talks than I could attend. To kick things off, I felt inspired during the opening session of the Pre-AAD SPD Meeting, where we were welcomed by Dr. Adelaide Hebert, from the University of Texas Medical School – Houston and the first pediatric dermatology fellow. Following this, I attended one of the most dynamic talks of the weekend by Dr. Chesahna Kindred, who shared the history of black hair and the CROWN act, a law that that is currently being passed in states across the country to protect individuals against race-based hairstyles. During this session, I realized that my exposure to hair identity and hair in the pediatric space was lacking, leading me to seek out Dr. Britt Craiglow’s talk on alopecia areata in kids, where I learned about the latest treatment updates, including the use of oral minoxidil.
As an extrovert, the best part of the Conference was connecting with friends, mentors, and collaborators from across the country. At the Pre-AAD SPD Reception, I met Dr. Lionel Bercovitch, the editor-in-chief of Pediatric Dermatology, who published my first manuscript ever! However, despite all the famous dermatologists in attendance, my favorite connection at the meeting was with Olivia Davies, a past PeDRA Fellow. After multiple Zoom meetings and emails, it was so exciting to actually meet in person. The community and the energy that forms at in-person events is incredible, and something I didn’t realize I was missing.
Beyond collaborating with dermatology trainees and pediatric dermatologists, I met so many other amazing non-profit representatives, community members, and industry partners. I spent an afternoon working the Coalition of\ Skin Diseases booth with Brindley Brooks, founder of HS Connect. I attended industry meetings with PeDRA Board Members, where we formed connections and discussed funding for future research. One of my passions is advocating for patients with disabilities, and during one luncheon, I had the opportunity to speak up for patients and promote the PeDRA Down Syndrome subgroup.
To conclude, the AAD Conference was a wild ride. I left feeling, well, tired, but also more curious than ever. The energy of the Conference was palpable. The innovation that was presented and actively taking place was inspiring. I was thriving on the early morning and late nights. I look forward to seeing everyone again at AAD in San Diego, but for now, I need a nap.
You can view Morgan’s experience at AAD on PeDRA’s Instagram in the events highlight and learn more about past PeDRA Fellows here.