Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Susan C. Taylor, Skin of Color Society Founder

April 13, 2021
Share This:
Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Susan C. Taylor, Skin of Color Society Founder-banner-image

Susan C. Taylor, MD, FAAD, Founder of the Skin of Color Society (SOCS), is widely recognized as a trailblazer and inspirational role model in the field of skin of color dermatology. She has greatly influenced many physicians-in-training and young dermatologists, and has significantly impacted the careers and lives of many individuals throughout their journeys in medicine.

She currently serves as Sandra J. Lazarus Professor of Dermatology and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Department of Dermatology at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she is Vice President of the American Academy of Dermatology. She remains active in the leadership of the Skin of Color Society and most recently has been a central contributor to the SOCS strategic planning process.

Dr. Taylor has authored/edited seven major dermatology books and has published numerous research publications, book chapters, and articles. She has lectured extensively around the world and is a frequently sought-after expert in the media and the profession.

Over the past decades, Dr. Taylor has mentored numerous medical students, residents and young dermatologists, and continues to mentor accomplished dermatologists and current leaders in dermatology. Many of her mentees have gone on to mentor many others, so her influence continues through the generations. In honor of her outstanding commitment to mentorship, Dr. Taylor was honored last year with the 2020 Mentor of the Year Award by the Women’s Dermatologic Society, a sister dermatologic society with which the Skin of Color Society shares many members.

Letters of Appreciation to Dr. Taylor from Mentees
Many SOCS members who have been mentored by Dr. Taylor over the years have shared their appreciation for the guidance, expertise, wisdom and support she has so generously shared. Here are some excerpts from a few SOCS members’ tributes to her:

Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD: “Through every step of my career, Dr. Taylor has always been receptive and open to offering advice, mentorship, and support despite her busy schedule. What is impressive is that I am only one of many African American females who she has done this for over the years. I am so thankful to know Dr. Taylor and to have built a relationship with her. She exemplifies what it means to excel as a physician, researcher, mentor, teacher, wife, and mother. Her impact on the development of the skin of color scientific community and literature is profound and she has left a lasting imprint in our field of dermatology and in the hearts of those she has mentored.”

Andrew Alexis, MD, MPH, FAAD: “I first met Dr. Taylor during my residency. Since then, she has not only served as my mentor, but also, the standard by which I measure leadership and excellence in dermatology. Dr. Taylor graciously provided me with numerous opportunities early in my career that helped lay the foundation for many developments that followed. These opportunities are too numerous to mention, but being invited to speak at her groundbreaking AAD courses on skin of color and getting involved in the Skin of Color Society (which she founded) in its infancy are two experiences that were particularly influential. Her efforts early in my career to groom and develop me to be a future leader are a testament to her selfless commitment to mentorship. She has guided and inspired countless dermatologists, residents, and medical students; I consider myself blessed to be among them.”

Ncosa Dlova, MBChB, FCDerm, PhD“Dr. Taylor opened her heart and shared her vast experience and wisdom with me. She created opportunities to present my research in international meetings, contribute chapters in her textbooks, ensured that the international community
acknowledged some of the small achievements and progress we have made locally and internationally, linked us with some of the doyens of dermatology in an attempt to create opportunities for exchange of knowledge, and was my sounding board for many academic challenges that I encountered. Her advice and advocacy have indisputably helped me make decisions towards my future. One of the great aspects of having her as a mentor is that I also became more ecstatic and passionate about the subspecialty (Skin of Color) and as a result my PhD was on “African Skin and Hair.” I am undeniably looking forward to do the same to those who will be coming after me and for all the women in Africa.”

Jennifer David DO, MBA“We all have those people in our lives that when we sit back and reflect on our life journey think, ‘I would never be where I am today without them!’ For me, I’m lucky enough to have two such people in my life. The first is my mother and the other is Dr. Susan Taylor who not only serves as my mentor but is also someone whom I consider a second mother. Dr. Taylor has been a trailblazer in the field of dermatology for both women and people of color but what really sets her apart is her consistent dedication to help young physicians carve their own path into the field of medicine. Whether it was teaching me as a medical student/resident at her busy clinic, writing countless letters of recommendation, providing research opportunities, offering encouraging words of support or helping me formulate “Plan B” for a detoured career path, Dr. Taylor did all and without hesitation. Her dedication to helping students and young physicians is unwavering. She is a remarkable dermatologist and role model. I hope to be able to pay it forward and have an impact on future medical students/residents like she has with me and my colleagues.”

Oma Agbai, MD:“I met Dr. Taylor several years ago as a medical student in Philadelphia, PA, when I had the opportunity to observe in her clinic. While I was struck by her professionalism and knowledge, it was her warmth and sincerity that impacted me the most. Dr. Taylor’s advice, encouragement and support over the years emboldened me to pursue my passion for dermatology, and to stay the course in the face of challenges. Through co-authoring scientific writings with Dr. Taylor, I learned from her pristine skill as an effective scientific author. She has been an inspiration to me in the utmost way, and to this day I continue to apply clinical skills learned from her in my own dermatology practice.”

There are many more touching letters along these lines from grateful mentees who have benefitted greatly from Dr. Taylor’s outstanding mentorship.

Dr. Taylor’s Recent Mentees












Dr. Taylor’s recent mentees include medical students, residents, and dermatologists at various career stages from many different academic institutions around the country, including the following individuals:

  1. Amanda Onalaja, University of Rochester Medical School Student.
  2. Fritzlaine Roach, University of Rochester Medical School Student.
  3. Shanice McKenzie, UCLA Medical School Student.
  4. Jasmine Harris, University of Michigan Medical School Student.
  5. Callyn Iwuala, Cooper Medical School Student.
  6. Surya Veerabagu, Tulane School of Medicine, Medical Student.
  7. Mina-Abena Maranga, Perelman School of Medicine Student, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Maryam Alausa, Perelman School of Medicine Student, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Ajay Kailas, MD, Howard University College of Medicine, Dermatology Resident.
  10. Courtney Rubin, MD, Harvard Medical School Instructor.
  11. Brittany Oliver, MD, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Dermatology Resident.
  12. Oma N. Agbai, MD., Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, Davis School of Medicine.
  13. Temitayo Ogunleye, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania.
  14. Jenna Lester, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, UCSF.
  15. Arianne Shadi Kourosh, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Harvard  Medical School.
  16. Adrianna Richmond, BS, University of Pennsylvania Student.
  17. Lauren Claire Hollis, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Penn State University.
  18. May Elgash, MD, Oregon Health and Science University, Dermatology Resident.
  19. Jessica Dawson, MD, University of Washington Medical Student.
  20. Ginikawya Onyekaba, Perelman School of Medicine Student, University of Pennsylvania.
  21. Jessica Brown-Korsah, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Student.
  22. Annyella Douglas, MD, Jefferson University, Dermatology Resident.
  23. Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.
  24. Andrew F. Alexis, MD, MPH, FAAD, Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West.
  25. Candrice Heath, MD, FAAD, Assistant Professor, Dermatology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
  26. Ncosa Dlova, MBChB, FCDerm, PhD, Dean of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Clinical Medicine, Durban, South Africa.
  27. Nawal Joma, MD, Saad Specialist Hospital, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
  28. Rashmi Sarkar, MD, MNAMS, Professor of Dermatology, Maulana Azad Medical College, Central Delhi, India.

Dr. Taylor’s Mentors
A passionate and dedicated mentor, Dr. Taylor was guided by wonderful mentors of her own. She was mentored by Drs. Vincent DeLeo and Richard Scher during her dermatology residency. Since her residency, she was mentored by Dr. Luanne Thorndyke (Dean at USC) as well as Dr. DeLeo. When asked about what mentorship advice he recalls giving Dr. Taylor, Dr. DeLeo shared, “When you’re building your academic career early on, never say no, but never over-promise, and under-deliver.”

Would you like to see a feature honoring one of your mentors? Please share your thoughts with us by writing to: