Dermatology: Specialty Clinic Update - Phototherapy Education and Research Centre (PERC)
PERC (Phototherapy Education and Research Centre) was established at Women's College Hospital in 1976. It is one of the largest phototherapy centres in the world. We offer an extensive range of phototherapies including narrowband UVB, broadband UVB, and PUVA. In 2018, our centre provided more than 21,000 phototherapy treatments to 1500 patients. Approximately 70% of patients we treat have psoriasis and 25% have atopic dermatitis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). The remaining patients have photo-responsive diseases such as pityriasis lichenoides chronicus, lichen planus, and pruritus. In addition to providing phototherapy, we are currently treating approximately 900 patients with systemic therapies for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Every month, with the great support of rheumatologist Dr. Dana Jerome, we offer a combined psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis clinic where patients are assessed by both the dermatologist and rheumatologist simultaneously to enhance their treatment outcomes. We are also one of the largest CTCL centres in Canada with more than 840 active patients being treated for this condition.
Education has always a major focus at PERC. Our 4 terrific nurses (Sandra Walsh, Helen Middleton, Jieming Gong, Genevieve Chow) not only provide phototherapy treatments diligently, they also spend a tremendous amount of time with patients one-on-one to discuss proper use of emollients and topical agents, to review the basic pathophysiology of disease state and various treatment options, and to reduce patient’s fear of receiving phototherapy or systemic treatment for the first time and much more! Needless to say, nurses have always been the most essential healthcare providers at PERC. This model of care has not changed since the inception of PERC because it has worked extremely well and there is no need to change!
Education for trainees is of course absolutely crucial at PERC as well. In addition to myself, we are very fortunate to have 5 other dermatologists (Drs Aaron Drucker, Perla Lansang, Danny Schachter, Neil Shear, Scott Walsh) who run weekly clinics to provide regular teaching for medical students, nursing students, pharmacy students, dermatology residents, family medicine residents, internal medicine residents, and fellows.
Last but not least, the R in PERC has really expanded substantially in the past few years. Since 2016, more than 10 medical students from year 1 to year 4 at various Canadian universities have spent weeks to months participating in a number of research projects with us. Because of their hard work, we have presented over 30 abstracts and posters in major dermatology conferences and published over 20 articles in high impact peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology, European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, and Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery from 2017-2019. We are very excited that we have a few research medical students and a PGY 3 dermatology resident who are working with us this summer on various research projects evaluating the real world evidence of biologics and phototherapy in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.