Adding Science Articles to CertLink Library

By Keith A. Choate, MD, PhD* and Delphine J. Lee, MD, PhD** 

We’ll admit it – the idea of answering “basic science” questions can be intimidating, and at face value it may not seem directly relevant to the practice of dermatology.

However, science is the foundation of clinical medicine. Considering the increasingly widespread availability of molecular diagnostics and targeted therapies, understanding the science underlying skin disease and its treatment is more critical than ever to patient care.

In recent years, the breadth and depth of scientific knowledge as well as associated databases and search engines have expanded dramatically. Rote memorization of scientific minutiae is no longer desirable or feasible.  Instead, dermatologists should concentrate on the science that provides a framework for cutting edge diagnosis and management of skin disease.

Rote Memorization is a Relic of the Past

At the June meetings of the ABD, our item writing committees gather to develop fresh, clinically relevant questions for all of our assessments, from the BASIC exam to CertLink.

The Science Content Development Committee used our time at this meeting to scour the ABD item bank to remove questions focused on memorized details and outdated concepts. Long gone are the days of “name that gene” or “identify that fungus” questions. Instead, we’ve been busy writing updated questions based on emerging, cutting-edge science that has utility in the day-to-day work of practicing dermatologists.

Adding Science Articles to CertLink Library

Science and medicine are moving forward at an astoundingly rapid rate, and the number of new tests and drugs is growing exponentially. It’s critical to know how these innovations can be applied to provide the safest and most effective treatments for our patients.

We are excited to add science as a focus area for CertLink article-based items and in the CertLink library. Articles will explain the “how” and “why” of medical advances and best practices, and cover state-of-the art methods that enhance diagnosis and management of the full spectrum of dermatologic conditions, from inflammatory and infectious to genetic and neoplastic.

These questions will not be a quiz of trivial facts or specifically for dermatologists engaged in scientific research, but rather to empower all of us to be the best, honoring our board certification, so that our patients are getting our best.

Demystifying and embracing the science underlying dermatology promotes the ABD’s vision to advance excellence in dermatologic care and improve outcomes for all patients.

The bottom line is this: As board-certified dermatologists, we are the experts in skin.  And that includes knowing the science.


*Keith A. Choate, MD, PhD, is Chair of Dermatology and a professor of dermatology, genetics and pathology at Yale School of Medicine. He is a physician-scientist who studies rare inherited and mosaic skin disorders to identify novel genes responsible for epidermal differentiation and development. He serves on the ABD Board of Directors and on the ABD’s Science and Research Committee.

**Delphine J. Lee, MD, PhD, is the Chief of Dermatology and the Residency Program Director at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, as well as Director for the Dermatology Service Line for the Department of Health Services for Los Angeles County. She leads her immunology research team at the Lundquist Institute to investigate how to help immune systems fight cancer and improve outcomes for people with autoimmune diseases. She is a health sciences clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She serves on the ABD Board of Directors and on the ABD’s Science and Research Committee.






















Board-certified dermatologists are the experts in skin.  Understanding the science is critical for optimizing patient care.