Dr. Sheila Au, head of the Division of Dermatology at St. Paul’s and clinical assistant professor at UBC, began her career as a pediatrician before finding her true passion in dermatology. Au and her colleagues recently won their second Dermatologist from the Heart Award, a $10,000 grant to be used towards an innovative project.
What is unique about the Division of Dermatology at St. Paul’s?
Each person in this group brings a unique subspecialty interest to the table. Dr. Aaron Wong works as our HIV dermatology specialist. Dr. Gillian de Gannes has expert knowledge of contact and occupational dermatitis. Dr. Chih-ho Hong and Dr. Gurbir Dhadwal have expertise in cutting-edge therapeutics, and run our rapid access clinics. Dr. Simon Wong has partnered with Dr. Stephen Kline from Psychiatry to create the Skin Health Liaison (SKIL) Clinic, where they assess patients with skin diseases related to psychiatric conditions.
What role do you play in the care of post-transplant patients?
Transplant patients are at-risk for developing skin cancer, in part due to their chronic immunosuppression. For the past three years, I have been the dermatologist in the Skin Cancer Post-Transplant (SCREEN) Clinic. So far we have diagnosed 300 skin cancers in this clinic. I’m grateful to Dr. David Landsberg and the post-renal transplant team, who have supported this endeavor.
Tell me about the combined Dermatology/Rheumatology (DART) Clinic?
Patients with rheumatologic conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, often suffer from both skin and systemic disease and require integrated management. The head of Rheumatology, Dr. Kam Shojania and I see patients together to develop a treatment plan.
What research projects have you undertaken at the Division?
I want to know whether what we are doing is working, so we have conducted patient satisfaction surveys of the DART and SCREEN Clinics. We’ve studied how accurate we are at diagnosing skin cancer in our transplant patients and have also conducted a 10-year review of every skin condition we have seen during in-patient consultations. We’ve also created a protocol with our nephrology colleagues for the management of calciphylaxis, a life-threatening skin condition.
Of what professional accomplishments are you most proud?
Watching an idea blossom into reality is one of the most satisfying things. I am also honoured to be the head of such a dedicated group of dermatologists and do what I can to support them.
What do you do for fun?
My kids have inherited my husband’s sense of humour, so I spend a lot of time laughing at my family’s antics. I design and make jewelry, which is my creative outlet. Books, friends, fitness and chocolate round out my daily pleasures.