Nancy Thomas, MD, PhD, Irene and Robert Alan Briggaman Distinguished Professor has announced that she will step down as the chair of the Department of Dermatology effective May 1. Thomas has served as the department’s chair for six years and has overseen improvements in patient care, education and research.
“I am deeply appreciative of the dedication and compassion of the faculty, staff, and trainees of the dermatology department and my colleagues in the School of Medicine,” Thomas said. “I am especially proud of what the department has been able to achieve during my tenure, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. Though presented with new challenges in care delivery due to the unprecedented pandemic, the department was able to adapt and succeed in continuing to provide the highest quality care to patients in a safe environment. The department transformed into a team-based approach, leveraging telemedicine and new protocols to ensure these efforts succeeded.”
After May 1, Thomas will remain as the Irene and Robert Alan Briggaman Distinguished Professor and a member of the faculty, focusing on research, education and patient care.
Under her leadership, the department expanded its clinical care, research portfolio and educational programs. The department is known for its adult and pediatric general, sub-specialty, laser/surgery and hospital dermatology clinical care and for its exceptional Mohs surgery, dermatopathology, and immunodermatology units. The department added the UNC Hospitals Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center at Hillsborough in 2021, while continuing its strong presence at UNC Hospitals Dermatology & Skin Cancer Centers at Southern Village and Raleigh. The department founded the first UNC Health Alliance Dermatology Collaborative to create a clinically integrated dermatology network system wide.
Additionally, the department annually ranked between 16th and 26th in the country among dermatology departments, and consistently among the top 10 public institutions, in total National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding per the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. The department is internationally known for its NIH-funded research in melanoma, autoimmune blistering disorders and hidradenitis suppurativa. The department also is celebrated for its UNC Dermatology Clinical Trials Unit, which has participated in over 70 clinical trials of all phases across many dermatologic indications in pediatric and adult populations.
Thomas is co-leader of two large international melanoma consortia – InterMEL and the Genes, Environment, and Melanoma Study group. She maintains an NIH-funded research lab and is a Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded Program Project (P01) grant, Integration of Clinical and Molecular Biomarkers for Melanoma Survival, and an R01 grant, Identification of Lethal Melanomas at the Time of Diagnosis. She codirects the UNC Skin Cancer and Melanoma Program. She is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is a faculty member in the curriculum in genetics and molecular biology.
Thomas earned her MD-PhD from The Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, receiving her MD from Weill Cornell Medical College and her PhD from The Rockefeller University. She completed her surgery internship and dermatology residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Margaret Helton, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, will serve as the Department of Dermatology’s interim chair and a national search for a permanent chair will begin later in 2023.