History of the BSD

Collated and written by Dr Asok Biswas, Consultant Dermatopathologist, Edinburgh.

Interest in dermatopathology in the UK dates back to the time of Robert Willan (1757 – 1812). Willan devised the first classification system for dermatological conditions around the same time as Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish “father of modern taxonomy” was pioneering a scientific system of naming plants and animals. Dermatopathology topics featured heavily in the early meetings of The Dermatology Society of London, the first British dermatological society established in 1882 by the founder members Jonathan Hutchinson, Erasmus Wilson, Radcliffe Crocker and Colcott Fox. Fascination with dermatopathology continued with many British dermatologists travelling to continental Europe to learn from legends like Paul Gerson Unna in Hamburg, Germany. Unna’s magnum opus, Die Histopathologie der Hautkrankheiten was translated into English, by one of his favourite pupils, Norman Purves Walker from Edinburgh in 1896 (The Histopathology of the Diseases of the Skin).

John MH MacLeod, an Aberdeen graduate and another pupil of Unna started running courses in cutaneous histology and pathology at the Charing Cross Medical School on his return to the UK in 1901. Till that time, structured teaching of dermatopathology was virtually non-existent in the UK. Some of the material from these courses became the basis of the first original English textbook in dermatopathology, Practical Handbook of the Pathology of the Skin written by MacLeod and published in 1903. Second and third editions of MacLeod’s vade mecum appeared in 1940 and 1946. Around the mid-20th century, major contributions in British dermatopathology were being made by Walter Freudenthal (London), George A Grant Peterkin (Edinburgh), Henry Haber (London), John Alexander Milne (Glasgow) and others.

A group of British dermatologists with a mutual interest in dermatopathology (Martin Black, Stanley Bleehan, Rona MacKie, Ronald Marks, Kenneth Sanderson, Ian Whimster and Edward Wilson-Jones) were considering forming a dermatopathology special interest group in the early 1970s. Following discussion at the 1973 meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), “Ronnie” Marks wrote to 20 BAD members known for their interest in dermatopathology. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, a meeting was convened at Liverpool in January 1974 to discuss formation of such a group in principle, by the name of “British Society for Dermatopathology” (Figure 1).

Figure 1: First page of the proposal document for formation of the Society circulated by Dr Ronald Marks to prospective members ahead of the January 1974 meeting in Liverpool (Courtesy of David Slater).
Figure 1: First page of the proposal document for formation of the Society circulated by Dr Ronald Marks to prospective members ahead of the January 1974 meeting in Liverpool (Courtesy of David Slater).

In July 1974, a group of twelve physicians met at St John’s Hospital, London where the title “Skin Pathology Group” was initially adopted and the aims and objectives of the Society discussed.  Kenneth Sanderson (who was also the BAD Secretary at that time) and Ronald Marks served as the first Chairperson and Secretary of this newly formed Society. Hermann Pinkus (Detroit, MI), who was on a sabbatical visit to Glasgow at the time and later became the first Honorary overseas member of the Scottish Dermatological Society, attended this inaugural meeting.  In July 1976, an interim decision was agreed on, to change the name of the Society, as originally envisaged, to “British Society for Dermatopathology”. The underlying principles of a new Constitution were drawn out in 1978 under the stewardship of Martin M Black (Chairperson) and Neil P Smith (Secretary) although it was not published till 1984 (see below).

Early members of the BSD were almost exclusively dermatologists but an increasing number of pathologists (both specialist dermatopathologists and general pathologists with an interest in dermatopathology) started joining the Society boosting membership numbers and the trend seems to continue till date.


  • Smith NP. The British Society for Dermatopathology. Am J Dermatopathol 1985; 7: 431-432.
  • JMH MacLeod and British dermatopathology. Am J Dermatopathol 1985; 7:433-435.
  • BSD / BAD archives.
  • Correspondence from Dr David Slater

BSD Constitution

Like the Society’s name, the BSD Constitution evolved over the first few years. Although an outline of the rules of the Society were drawn out during a meeting in 1978, a formal Constitution was first published in 1984 (Figure 2).

 Since that time, the opening “Title and Objects” section of the BSD Constitution has remained as follows:

The Society shall be called the British Society for Dermatopathology.

Its objects shall be to promote for the public benefit the knowledge and teaching of Dermatopathology and in furtherance of the above objects but not otherwise:

(i) To stimulate and promote appropriate medical and scientific research relevant to the speciality.

(ii) To collect, collate and publish information and to hold conferences, meetings and seminars for the purpose of promoting such object.

(iii) To do any and all acts and things which may be necessary, useful, suitable or proper for the furtherance, accomplishment or attainment of the object hereof.

Some sections of the BSD Constitution were amended in the 1998 version, which featured the BSD logo.

Figure 2: Front cover of the first printed version of the BSD Constitution from 1984 (“The Little Red Book”). (Courtesy of David Slater).

BSD logo

The BSD logo was adopted in the mid-1990s following an open competition amongst BSD members. Dr Andrew Smith, Consultant dermatologist and a life-long dermatopathology enthusiast from Stoke on Trent was the winner (Figure 3).

Graphic designing of the illustration into the current electronic format was done by Dr David Slater’s son, who went on to become a vicar (Rev Christopher Slater) in the Church of England.

Figure 3: The BSD logo.

List of BSD past Presidents and Secretaries

  • 2020 – 2023: Dr Luisa Motta (President); Dr Mark Bamford (Secretary)
  • 2017- 2020: Dr Asok Biswas (President); Dr Sara Edward (Secretary)
  • 2014-2017: Dr Paul Craig (President); Dr Asok Biswas (Secretary)
  • 2011-2014: Dr Eduardo Calonje (President); Dr Paul Craig (Secretary)
  • 2008-2011: Dr Maureen Walsh (President); Dr Saleem Taibjee (Secretary)
  • 2002-2008: Dr David N Slater (President); Dr Alison Bedlow (Secretary)
  • 1999-2002: Dr Rino Cerio (President); Dr David N Slater (Secretary)
  • 1996-1999: Dr P H McKee (President); Dr M E Fallowfield (Secretary)
  • 1993-1996: Dr Neil P Smith (President); Dr Rino Cerio (Secretary)
  • 1991-1993: Professor NA Wright (President); Dr Martin G Cook (Secretary)
  • 1986-1988: Dr E Wilson Jones (President); Dr Philip H McKee (Secretary)
  • 1984-1986: Professor Rona MacKie (President); Dr Robin Russell Jones (Secretary)
  • 1981-1984: Dr Stanley Bleehan (President); Dr David McGibbon (Secretary)
  • 1978-1981: Dr Martin M Black (President); Dr Neil P Smith (Secretary).
  • 1976-1978: Dr Ronald Marks (President); Dr Arthur Knight (Secretary)
  • 1974-1976: Dr Kenneth Sanderson (President); Dr Ronald Marks (Secretary)

Annual conference and educational meetings

Currently, the Society organizes most of its educational activities as part of the Annual Meeting of the BAD. The BSD Self-Assessment meeting is held as a pre-conference session, usually on the first Monday of July each year. Other activities during the Annual Meeting include Clinicopathological Case Presentations and hosting the Neil Smith lecture on the following day, Tuesday morning. The BSD plenary sessions and poster viewing are held during Tuesday afternoon. The latter also includes a BSD Guest lecture delivered by an invited speaker on a topic of interest to the practicing dermatopathologist (see below).

The educational meetings organized by the BSD have varied over the years. Originally, two meetings were held – one as part of the Annual BAD Meeting and the other as the Winter BSD Meeting.  For several years since 1989, joint meetings were held with the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology (BDIAP) which replaced the BSD Winter Meeting.

In September 2017, the BSD hosted the XXXVIII Symposium of the International Society of Dermatopathology (ISDP) at Glasgow (https://doi.org/10.1097/dad.0000000000001107). With over 410 participants from 39 countries, it was one of the largest educational meetings the Society had hosted in recent years. The Local Organizing Committee included Paul Craig (Chair), Asok Biswas, Richard Carr, Sarah Edward and Catherine Stefanato. Professor John McGrath gave the AB Ackerman Lecture (Molecular dermatopathology: practical and conceptual) (Figure 4a) and Professor Helmut Kerl was awarded the Founders Medal at the symposium (Figure 4b).

Figure 4a: ISDP Glasgow 2017. Ackerman Lecturer Professor John McGrath.
Figure 4b: ISDP Glasgow 2017. Founders Medal recipient Professor Helmut Kerl. (Courtesy of Paul Craig).

The association between the BSD and the ISDP dates back to July, 1981 when the two Societies jointly ran the 2nd International Dermatopathology Symposium of the International Society of Dermatopathology, titled “Sherlockian Dermatopathology: Dilemmas and Directions in Dermatopathology” in London. The meeting was co-directed by Drs E Wilson-Jones, Martin M Black and A Bernard Ackerman. This was immediately preceded by the ISDP sponsored “Third Annual Dermatopathology Colloquium” held at Guy’s Hospital, London. Dr D M MacDonald was the local organizer.

A joint meeting of the BSD and ISDP (15th Annual Dermatopathology Colloquium”) was held in July 1994 at Kensington Town Hall, London immediately preceding the 74th Annual BAD meeting. Dr Rino Cerio was the BSD Secretary at that time.

In 2009, a BSD Annual Trainee Workshop was started in London. Subsequent workshops were organized in Birmingham and Bristol till 2016.

A Joint BSD / Dowling Club meeting was organized by Dr Saleem Taibjee in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 2012 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Participants at the Joint BSD / Dowling Club meeting held in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 2012. (Courtesy of Saleem Taibjee).

 The BSD ran an Affiliated Meeting organized by Dr Asok Biswas at the XV World Congress on Cancers of the Skin at Edinburgh in September 2014. From time to time, the Society badges/endorses high quality educational events and courses which are of interest to the BSD membership. 

Self-Assessment meeting 

The first BSD Self-Assessment meeting was held at the Jury’s Inn Hotel Liverpool on 8th July 2013. It was attended by 30 participants who were able to view the scanned pre-circulated images of 40 cases discussed at the meeting. The faculty included Wolter Mooi, Eduardo Calonje, Richard Carr, Rino Cerio, Martin Cook, Paul Craig, Sara Edward, Lynne Jamieson, Ed Rytina and Maureen Walsh. In subsequent years, the BSD Self-Assessment meeting was incorporated into the BAD Annual conference programme as a pre-conference session and held at the BAD conference venue. The scanned images of all the meeting cases along with the accompanying multiple choice questions and a PDF version of the discussion slides are permanently hosted in the Leeds Virtual Pathology website and can be accessed by clicking https://www.virtualpathology.leeds.ac.uk/bsd/  This is an invaluable educational resource covering all aspects of diagnostic dermatopathology.

Wilson-Jones Cup

The Wilson-Jones Cup was established by the BSD in 2011 in honour of Professor E Wilson-Jones for his outstanding and highly significant contributions in the field of dermatopathology (Figure 6). The trophy was purchased from a trophy maker in Birmingham and is awarded each year to the best plenary presentation at the BSD session during the BAD annual conference (Figure 7a).

Figure 6: Professor E Wilson Jones (with Professor Rino Cerio). (Courtesy of Rino Cerio).

Figure 7: (a) Dr Ravi Suchak being awarded the Wilson Jones Cup from Dr Maureen Walsh, BSD President (Courtesy of Saleem Taibjee). (b) The Wilson-Jones Cup awarded for the best plenary BSD presentation at the BAD annual conference (Courtesy of Kristofer Holte).

The winning presenter has their name engraved on the trophy and receives a monetary prize.  The BSD also awards a monetary prize to the runner-up.

The following is the list of winners of the Wilson-Jones Cup.

  • 2011: R Suchak (Figure 7b)
  • 2012: M Singh
  • 2013: E Ieremia
  • 2014: E Ieremia
  • 2015: D Brass
  • 2016: K Semkova
  • 2017: G Saldanha
  • 2018: K Holte
  • 2019: L Griffin
  • 2020 to 2022: Not awarded. To be awarded in 2023

Neil Smith lecture

The joint BSD/ BAD Neil Smith lecture was established in 2000 in the memory of Dr Neil P Smith (1946-1996), Consultant Dermatologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Histopathology at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology (Figure 8).

The following is a list of Neil Smith lecturers. A list of Neil Smith medal (figure 8b) holders will be available on the website in the future.

  • 2023 Dr Joyce Lee (Singapore): Alopecia in red, white and blue. Tips on the interpretation of hair biopsies.
  • 2022 Dr Eduardo Calonje (London, UK): Clinicopathological correlation in dermatopathology.
  • 2021 Professor Wayne Grayson (Johannesburgh, South Africa): Cutaneous Infectious Diseases: An update.
  • 2020 Professor Victor Prieto (Texas, USA): Cutaneous toxicities of targeted therapies and immunotherapies.
  • 2019 Dr Luis Requena (Madrid, Spain): Paraprotein deposits in the skin.
  • 2018 Professor Rino Cerio (London): How does Dermatopathology define Dermatology.
  • 2017 Dr David Slater (Sheffield & Chesterfield): Skin cancer datasets: a means towards the best personalized and population based dermatological care (Figure 9).
  • 2016 Professor Martin Cook (Guildford, UK): Does terminology matter in the management of melanocytic lesions?
  • 2015 Professor Philip E. LeBoit (San Francisco, USA): Clinico-pathologic and molecular correlation in evaluating melanocytic neoplasms.
  • 2014 Professor Christopher Fletcher (Boston, USA): Pitfalls and Controversies in Mesenchymal Tumours of the Skin (Figure 10).

Figure 8: Dr Neil Proctor Smith (1946-1996). (Courtesy of Saleem Taibjee).

Figure 8b: The Neil Smith medal as awarded to Dr. David Slater in 2017.

Figure 9: Dr David Slater, Neil Smith lecturer 2017 being awarded the Neil Smith medal and lifetime honorary BSD membership certificate by Dr Paul Craig, BSD President (Courtesy of Christopher Garrett, BAD).
Figure 10: Professor Christopher Fletcher delivering the Neil Smith lecture in Glasgow, 2014 (Courtesy of Christopher Garrett, BAD).
  • 2013 Professor Wolter Mooi (Amsterdam, The Netherlands): Lentiginous melanoma: emerging entity or misnomer.
  • 2012 Professor Helmut Kerl (Graz, Austria): A journey to the heart of dermatology.
  • 2011 Professor David Elder (Philadelphia, USA): Melanocytic tumours of uncertain malignant potential – MELTUMPS.
  • 2010 Professor Martin C Mihm Jr. (Boston, USA): Interface dermatitis and connective tissue diseases.
  • 2009 Dr Karen Blessing (Glasgow): Dermatopathological complications of chronic renal failure.
  • 2008 Dr Niamh Leonard (Liverpool): Skin lesions with deviant behavior.
  • 2007 Dr Gerald Saldanha (Leicester): Molecular aspects of melanoma.
  • 2006 Dr Phillip H McKee (Boston, USA): The changing face of dermatopathology.
  • 2005 Dr Robin Reid (Glasgow): An update on soft tissue tumours relevant to the Dermatopathologist and Dermatologist.
  • 2004 Professor A Bernard Ackerman (New York, USA): Hopes, dreams and disappointments of a Dermatopathologist.
  • 2002 Professor MM Black (London): John Laws Milton. The founder of St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin.
  • 2001 Professor Rona MacKie (Glasgow): The pathogenesis of skin cancer.
  • 2000 Professor E Wilson Jones (London): Reminiscences of dermatopathology pre 2000.

BSD Guest lectures

  • 2023: Dr Amaya Viros Usandizaga, Manchester, UK.
  • 2022: Miscellaneous Observations in Dermatopathology (Dr Eduardo Calonje, London, UK).
  • 2021: Adverse Cutaneous Drug Reactions in Patients With HIV/AIDS (Professor Wayne Grayson, Johannesburgh, South Africa).

  • 2020: Use of special studies to the diagnosis of melanocytic lesions (Professor Victor Prieto, Texas, USA); Dermatopathological manifestations of COVID 19 infection: the Spanish experience (Dr José Luis Rodŕiquez-Peralto, Madrid, Spain).

  • 2019: Cutaneous disorders mimicking CD30+ve lymphoma histopathologically (Dr Luis Requena, Madrid).
  • 2018: The fallacy of the concept of invasion (Dr Wolfgang Weyers, Freiberg, Germany).
  • 2017: Cutaneous lymphoma and the 2016 revision of the WHO classification of lymphoid neoplasms (Dr Alistair Robson, Portugal).
  • 2016: The interpretation of sentinel lymph nodes for melanoma (Professor Martin Cook, Guildford).
  • 2015:  Evolving entities, inflammatory and neoplastic (Professor Philip E LeBoit, San Francisco, USA).
  • 2014: What’s New in Cutaneous Soft Tissue Tumours? (Professor Christopher Fletcher, Boston, USA).
  • 2013: Early melanoma. Small melanoma. Naevoid melanoma. How many are melanomas? (Professor Wolter Mooi, Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
  • 2008: All you need to know about UK and European Dermatopathology Exams (Dr Maureen Walsh, Belfast).


Dr Richard Carr, Dr Paul Craig, Professor Rino Cerio, Professor Martin Cook, Dr David Slater, Dr Saleem Taibjee and the BAD Conference and Events department team (Christopher Garrett, Anna Tong).

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