Department History

Baylor College of Medicine was founded in 1900 as the University of Dallas Medical Department with an enrollment of 81 students. The Medical Department affiliated with Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and became Baylor University College of Medicine on June 29, 1903. The College was invited to move to Houston in 1943 to anchor the newly founded Texas Medical Center.

Dr. Culver Griswold and Dr. Everett Seale 

The first chair of the Department of Dermatology was Dr. Culver Griswold, who held that post from 1943 to 1949.

In 1949, Dr. Griswold was succeeded by Dr. Everett Seale as professor and chair of Dermatology at Baylor. Dr. Seale was president of the American Academy of Dermatology in 1958, and in 1955 he enrolled the department’s first resident, Dr. Rachel Spiller of Houston, and hired the department’s first full-time faculty member, Dr. John M. Knox, who eventually succeeded Dr. Seale in 1963.

Dr. John Knox

Dr. John Knox was trained in dermatology at the University of Michigan and became not only a strong, vigorous chair at Baylor, but also a nationally and internationally renowned leader in dermatology. He helped found the Houston Dermatological Society, which has since honored him with the annual John M. Knox Memorial Lecture. During his chairmanship, Baylor University College of Medicine became Baylor College of Medicine (1969), an independent, private medical school. The department grew significantly with major clinical and research interests in photobiology, microbiology, dermatopathology, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Knox resigned in 1981 to practice dermatology and dermatopathology in Houston, and died an untimely death in 1987.

Dr. Michael Jarratt

Dr. Michael Jarratt, a Harvard-trained faculty member at Baylor with interests in photobiology and virology was acting chair for two years, and was succeeded by Dr. John E. Wolf, Jr., in 1982. Dr. Wolf, a graduate of Rice University and The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, studied dermatology at the University of California Medical School at San Francisco and St. John’s Hospital in London. His areas of special interest include cutaneous microvasculature, tropical skin diseases, and the historical and cultural aspects of dermatology.

Dr. John Wolf

Throughout the 30-plus year span of Dr. Wolf’s chairmanship, the department has grown significantly. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the department had expanded its basic science research activities to include seven Ph.D. faculty members focused in the areas of cutaneous molecular biology, microbiology, photobiology/oncology, and pigment cell biology. The department places great emphasis on training its residents and fellows to become excellent clinicians and clinical scientists, and encourages research exposure to prepare them for academic positions as well. The four residents graduating in June 2012 scored 96th percentile nationally on their final examination by the American Board of Dermatology. During Dr. Wolf’s tenure, the program has grown to 11 residents and 3 fellows. Clinical care programs have increased to include dermatologic surgery, pediatric dermatology, dermatopathology, and cosmetic and procedural dermatology in addition to general dermatology. By the end of 2013, the number of M.D. faculty will total 14, the largest in the department’s history.