A wonderful example of how Hadassah International initiates cooperative medical ventures is the newly renovated and expanded Hadassah Germany Skin Center, created and funded by Hadassah Germany, in partnership with the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO). The Center, the conception of Hadassah Germany President Professor Thomas Ruzicka, cooperatively with Professor Claes David Enk, senior dermatologist at HMO and now Director of the Center, offers its patients the latest cutting-edge technology, including a leading department in photodermatology with unique equipment not found elsewhere in Israel.

This partnership, explains Prof. Ruzicka, who heads the dermatology department at Heinrich Heine University Hospital in Dusseldorf, led to a very successful breakthrough in the treatment of skin disease, a protocol not yet used anywhere in the world. Traditionally, photodynamic therapy (PDT), where visible light is used in combination with a topical drug that makes the skin more sensitive to the light, was used to treat superficial skin cancer. Two years ago, Prof. Enk visited Dusseldorf to observe how PDT was used at Prof. Ruzicka’s hospital; Prof. Enk had the idea to use PDT to treat the infectious disease of Leishmaniasis. In the past, Leishmaniasis, caused by a parasite, was treated with injections, which could be toxic and frequently led to scarring. Through PDT, the parasites are killed without those damaging side effects. This breakthrough has been published in both the Archives of Dermatology, as well as in professional dermatological journals in Germany, such as Der Hautarzt.

Before the establishment of the Hadassah Skin Center, HMO’s phototherapy unit consisted of a single piece of equipment, primarily used to treat psoriasis. Now the Center houses a PDT unit, a UVA-1 unit used for treating dermatitis, lymphoma, and skin complications that frequently follow bone marrow transplantation; a PUVA unit and narrow-band and broad-band UVB units for treating psoriasis and vitiligo; and a solar simulator, a diagnostic tool which enables dermatologists to detect a person’s sensitivity to different types of sunlight which, in turn, helps cure photosensitivity diseases.

Because dermatology is Professor Ruzicka’s medical specialty, the logical step for him was to partner Hadassah Germany with the dermatology department at HMO. Since Prof. Ruzicka’s hospital is an international center for dermatology and a leader in cutting-edge dermatological treatments such as photodynamic therapy (PDT), Prof. Ruzicka was in an excellent position to offer expertise and training. The goal is also to begin an exchange of medical students, where students from Israel come to train in Dusseldorf and students from Germany study at HMO.

“Our collaboration with Prof. Ruzicka,” notes Prof. Enk, benefits from his unique professional status as one of the leading dermatologists in the world. That he manages to squeeze HMO and Hadassah International into his tight schedule of patient care, first-class research, medical education, administration of a dermatology department of nearly 100 beds and a medical staff of 60 physicians and researchers, in addition to consulting work for world –leading drug companies is a testament to his deep dedication to Israel.”

Skin cancer, explains Prof Ruzicka, is an ever-increasing problem worldwide because of exposure to ultraviolet rays. It is his hope that the Hadassah Germany Skin Center, a clinical, research, and health education venture, will focus much needed attention on the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.