This fellowship is directed by Ronald P Rapini MD, who is author of the widely used textbook Practical Dermatopathology. Dr Rapini was past president of the American Society of Dermatopathology in 1999 and was the recipient of the ASDP Nickel Award for excellence in teaching of Dermatopathology in 2005. The fellowship program has five full time dermatopathology faculty, plus other faculty for general training in dermatology and pathology. The fellowship program began in 1990. It has always taken one or two fellows per year, except for a hiatus of 1994-2005. Currently there are five full-time faculty, all of whom are board-certified in Dermatology as well as Dermatopathology.
The fellows interact in weekly conferences with about nine additional faculty and three other fellows at the nearby MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, though these are separate programs. Many of those faculty have a previous background in Anatomic Pathology with board-certification in Dermatopathology. The fellowship is a one year program. Like all US fellowships in dermatopathology, the fellows have initial training in Dermatology or in Pathology before beginning the fellowship. Those fellows who trained previously in Pathology receive training in the general University of Texas Physicians dermatology clinics during half days for eight months. The fellows with a background in Dermatology receive training in general anatomic pathology during half days for eight months at Houston Methodist Hospital and Memorial Hermann Hospital – Texas Medical Center. The fellows all participate in dermatopathology sign-out during half days for the entire year of the fellowship.
The fellows are exposed to approximately 30,000 skin biopsy specimens which come annually from the university clinics (15%), several local hospitals (5%), and private dermatologists (80%). This is considered to be an optimal number of cases for study, which is not too small, nor an overwhelming number of cases. The department has a huge teaching collection of glass slides, as well as a collection of numerous clinical and pathology images. The fellows participate in the teaching of pathology and dermatology residents, and medical students.
Some of the graduates of this program have pursued academic careers, whereas others have entered private practice. One hundred percent of the graduates since 1990 have passed the certification examination jointly given by the American Board of Pathology and the American Board of Dermatology.
Fellow eligibility and selection
M.D. or D.O. applicants must have completed an ACGME-accredited fellowship program in Pathology or Dermatology prior to beginning the Dermatopathology Fellowship. The fellowship follows all institutional policies for resident (fellow) selection, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, or disability. Fellows must meet criteria for licensure or a Physician In-Training (PIT) permit from the Texas Medical Board prior to beginning the program. We prefer applicants from medical schools accredited by LCME. Accepted candidates are expected to meet criteria to take the certification examination in dermatopathology given by the American Boards of Dermatology and Pathology, outlined in detail on their websites.
We often accept candidates two years in advance, as per the practice of many USA Dermatopathology programs. We are approved by ACGME for two Dermatopathology fellows and have one funded position open for 2025. Positions starting July 2022 through 2024 are filled. To apply, email a CV, 3 letters, a personal statement, and an application form (we’ll accept any standard one from ASDP or CAP), to our coordinator, Donna Clanton. Additional information will be requested from applicants later, if needed.
Information on the national standard Dermatopathology application timeline and the ASDP application form for 2025 positions will be updated eventually on the ASDP website, and we will be following that (we already accepted an internal candidate for 2024): https://www.asdp.org/physicians-in-training/dermatopathology-fellowships/
CAP standard application form (also acceptable to us) is at https://webapps.cap.org/apps/docs/pathology_residents/pdf/residents_forum_standardized_fellowship_application.pdf
We will require further information only from those candidates we are considering for interview, to make sure they meet requirements of our institution, licensing and certifying boards, etc.
Ronald P. Rapini MD
Department of Dermatology
6500 West Loop South
Bellaire, TX 77401