Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology
Ackerman Academy Faculty & Students

ACGME-accredited SUNY Downstate/Ackerman Academy fellowship in dermatopathology at the Ackerman Academy
in New York City

Guiding Principles

The mission of the fellowship in dermatopathology at the Ackerman Academy is simple: to prepare and train future dermatopathologists to be leaders in the field by dint of competence unexceeded in diagnosis in general and of conditions recondite in particular, of skills pedagogical, and of capability to advance the discipline by virtue of adding new knowledge, including novel insights and original concepts.

The one-year fellowship program exposes trainees to all aspects of dermatopathology—from routine cases through challenging consultations to medical-legal issues. During the year of training, dermatologists and pathologists are able to benefit from over 100,000 accessions and the more than 4000 consultations received annually, they coming from all parts of the globe. Participation in everyday “sign-out” with the eight associates is another important component of the fellowship, it allowing the fellows to experience dermatopathology in the setting of a busy practice engaged in by mentors diverse.

The fellowship is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Brookyln Hospital system. The fellows spend half of their year in either the department of dermatology or in that of pathology, depending on what their training had been beforehand. For those already schooled in pathology, the interaction with patients with skin diseases serves to strengthen their facility for dermatopathology through correlation clinicopathologic. For those already trained in dermatology, hands on experience in the pathology laboratory, including grossing of specimens, learning histology techniques, and participating in daily sign-out enhances capability for dermatopathology by correlation pathoclinical. At SUNY Downstate, the fellows, both those who are dermatologists and those who are general pathologists, are exposed to hospital-based dermatopathology in an urban setting.

Criteria for successful completion of the program

Each fellow is assessed, daily, by Academy faculty. Because of this close contact at a 14-head microscope, where dialogue is ongoing and teaching is socratic, it soon becomes evident when a fellow is not performing satisfactorily. Oversight also is provided by quizzes given periodically to the fellows and based on “unknown slides”.

If during the course of the fellowship a trainee is not performing at a sufficiently high level, that person is counseled repeatedly and then warned that if performance does not improve, recommendation will not be made to the American Board for permission to take the qualifying examination in dermatopathology. Rare in the extreme is that necessary.


At the least, the expectation for fellows is that they will develop a high degree of competence in diagnostic dermatopathology during the course of the year of fellowship. In addition, there is the aspiration that the fellow becomes facile with a method conceptual for making diagnoses of diseases of the skin of all kinds and for integrating all the material into a coherent, functional whole. Last, there is the desideratum that by virtue of training at the Academy, a fellow will think, ever increasingly, in a fashion unwaveringly critical, not only at the microscope, but beyond it.

In sum and in short, the purpose of the Academy is to produce dermatopathologists who fulfill their potential by performing at a very high level professionally and by participating as citizens in maintaining a free society.


Only board-eligible or board-certified physicians in dermatology or pathology are welcome to apply. Up to seven (7) positions are available each year.

Criteria for selection

Although heed is paid to the record of the applicant and judgment is made about that person’s performance by those who send letters of recommendation, the major criterion is promise. Fellows are chosen on the basis of what is deemed to be potential for performing at a high level professionally and for contributing to the advance of the discipline. Quality sought for, in addition of those of social conscience, are ones pertinent to an inquiring, skeptical, and critical turn of mind, and those germane to generosity of spirit, which is a sine qua non for inspired pedagogy.


Fellowship appointments are effective as of July 1 of each academic year.

Inquiries regarding applications should be e-mailed to Please visit the admissions section for more information.