The concept of the Skin & Cancer Foundation originated in the early 1970s when dermatologists from NSW suggested that a Foundation be established to raise money to contribute to the development of academic dermatology in Australia. In 1975-76 Dr Ken Paver, in association with Drs Ken Poyzer, Ray King and Ron Spencer worked hard to turn this concept into reality and, in 1976, the Skin & Cancer Foundation opened its first clinic within the St Vincent’s Hospital Medical Centre. Dermatologists, at that time, worked on an honorary basis, so that all fees from patient services could be used to support the activities and development of the Foundation.

The Foundation was very successful with many overseas specialists visiting the clinic and Foundation doctors undertaking training overseas. In late 1976, the first subspecialty activity, PUVA therapy, was established and in 1978, Mohs micrographic surgery commenced. On 9 October, 1978, the Foundation was incorporated as a private, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee to provide tertiary referral services for dermatology patients as well as teaching and research in dermatology.

Following this, the Foundation expanded rapidly. Contact dermatitis and patch testing clinics commenced in 1979 and in that same year, the Foundation commenced funding dermatology registrar training positions, thus enabling the Foundation to fulfil one of its major aims - to be directly involved in the training of dermatologists.

In February 1980, the dermatopathology laboratory was established, providing expert opinion on referred specimens. Over the next few years, other subspecialty clinics and services in radiotherapy, dermabrasion, dermatological surgery, cosmetic dermatology, laser therapy, pigmented lesion evaluation, vitiligo, oral PUVA, iontophoresis and photobiology were opened.

Other milestones in the 1980's and early 1990's were the establishment of a second facility at Westmead, the purchase of a building in Darlinghurst close to St Vincent's Hospital to relocate the original facility, the purchase of a building at Westmead, the licensing and accreditation of a Day Surgery Centre at Westmead and the development of a Mohs Fellowship for training Australian dermatologists in the techniques of Mohs surgery, general dermatological surgery and laser therapy. Cosmetic dermatology services commenced in 2009.

In 1998, Dr Ken Paver was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to Medicine, fitting recognition to a man who contributed intellectually and financially to the establishment and development of an institution which has so positively influenced the practice of dermatology in Australia. Dr Paver donated his medal to the Foundation. Two other Order of Australia's have been awarded, on, in 1995, to Mr Alec Mackelden, the chairman of the Board of the Foundation for many years for distinguished service and, another in 2011, to Dr Stephen Shumack for services to dermatology and the community.

In 2010 a building was purchased at 121 Crown Street, which after renovation, houses a new day surgery, dermatology clinics and a skin pathology laboratory (Dermatopathology lab).

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