We spoke with Dr Paul M Friedman, President of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS), about his career and the society’s plans for this year.
Can you tell us a little bit about what led you into the field of dermatology and what have been the highlights so far?
I wanted to be a part of the huge technological advances the field was experiencing; this was the way I wanted to make a difference.
What advice would you offer to those following in your footsteps?
Seek out brilliant mentors and learn from their expertise. My mentors, including Drs Roy Geronemus, Tina Alster, and the late Fred Brandt, have been instrumental in my career path and development.
What do you think have been the most exciting developments in laser medicine in the last five years?
The evolution of fractionated laser technology and other fractionated energy-based devices have revolutionised the way we treat a number of common conditions in all skin types. Our ability to tailor these treatments for various conditions and skin types with fewer treatment sessions has been an exciting development.
You are the current president of ASLMS. Do you enjoy this role and what are your main aims during your tenure?
I am honoured to serve as President of this exceptional society. One of my main initiatives this year has been to expand our philanthropic efforts. In this past year, we launched a national philanthropic campaign, New Beginnings: Branding Tattoo Removal Program, to connect sex-trafficking survivors (in collaboration with National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance) to a national directory of board-certified physicians to provide pro bono tattoo removal of branding tattoos. Currently, we have 75 physicians who are a part of the project, and I am hoping to reach 100 providers by the 2023 Annual Conference.
Would you suggest more of your colleagues become involved in ASLMS?
ASLMS is the world’s largest professional organisation dedicated to promoting excellence in patient care through the safe and effective use of lasers and other energy-based technologies. As a member of this preeminent international society, you have access to the world’s top physicians and scientists in engineering and physics of lasers and energy devices for indications in many specialties. This is the leading organisation to provide the practical knowledge you need while exploring the future of energy-based medicine.
In 2023 the ASLMS Annual Conference will be taking place in Phoenix in April. Can you tell us about the themes and potential highlights of the event?
I believe this will be our best Annual Conference to date. The Program Chairs, Drs Omar Ibrahimi and Catherine DiGiorgio have created an outstanding and innovative meeting. We have secured the world’s leading experts in lasers and energy-based devices, who will be available through workshops, special sessions, and live demonstrations, plus daily plenary sessions showcasing innovative and inspiring concepts. The abstract sessions, where all the latest breakthroughs are first presented and discussed, are my favorite part of the conference. This is where exciting, cutting-edge research in clinical applications, basic science, and translational research is presented.
I am very pleased to announce that our Keynote Speaker is Marcia Rieke, PhD, Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Dr Rieke led the project to develop the near-infrared camera on the James Webb Space Telescope. She will share insights into the 20-year project, some of its exciting scientific results, and what they mean for our understanding of how the universe began and is changing over time.
We will also celebrate the philanthropic work of ASLMS members, who strive to change lives with lasers. To highlight our expansion of the New Beginnings Tattoo Removal Program to include the removal of branding tattoos, Kathy Givens, an advocate for human trafficking survivors, will share her personal connection to the campaign. Dr Zeina Tannous, who established the Dermatology Department at the Lebanese American University, is our featured speaker at the Celebration of ASLMS Women in Energy-Based Devices event. Through unprecedented challenges facing her country, she has persevered to provide adequate care to both Lebanese and refugees in need. Dr Tannous will share stories of her work to change lives with lasers and serve as an inspiration to all of us.
And finally, if you have any spare time, how do you like to relax?
The Peloton bike, running, basketball, and tennis are passions of mine. Work / life balance is important with my patient care, office, educational, research, and leadership obligations, and in recent years I have had to be more selective with speaking and travel opportunities to prioritise my family. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”