UTHSC Holds Dedication Ceremony for the New Kaplan-Amonette Department of Dermatology

Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD, addresses guests at the dedication of the new Kaplan-Amonette Department of Dermatology. Portraits of Robert Kaplan, MD, and Rex Amonette, MD, and his wife, Johnnie Amonette, for whom the department is named.

Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD,  department chair, welcomes guests to the dedication ceremony. 

A formal dedication of the new Kaplan-Amonette Department of Dermatology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) was held Oct. 11, at 2:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Hamilton Eye Institute at 930 Madison Ave.

The event also honored Robert Kaplan, MD, and Rex Amonette, MD, and his wife, Johnnie, for their philanthropy and lifetime support of UTHSC. In July, the Dermatology Department was named for Dr. Kaplan and Johnnie and Dr. Amonette, who provided the support and participation that allowed the new department to be established in the College of Medicine in November 2012. Drs. Kaplan and Amonette are UTHSC dermatology alumni and Memphis dermatologists,

“We’ve had incredible support from the university,” said Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD, who came to UTHSC in May to become the Amonette-Rosenberg Endowed Chair of Excellence in Dermatology and chairman of the Department of Dermatology. The department is located on the eighth floor of the Hamilton Eye Institute at 930 Madison.

“I think it takes someone like Dean (David) Stern (executive dean of the College of Medicine), who has vision and energy to spare,” Dr. Schwarzenberger said. “It takes people who believe in Memphis, like Rex Amonette and Bob Kaplan.”

Dr. Kaplan practices in Memphis at Kaplan and Kaplan Dermatology and holds multiple leadership positions at UTHSC. Prior to his multi-year commitment to the Dermatology Department, Kaplan’s financial support enabled the creation of the Kaplan Clinical Skills Center at UTHSC, a training facility for future physicians.

Dr. Amonette is the founder of the Memphis Dermatology Clinic and a former president of numerous organizations, including the Memphis Dermatological Society, the Tennessee Dermatology Society and the American Academy of Dermatology. He served as the interim chair of the UTHSC Department of Dermatology from its creation until Dr. Schwarzenberger took the helm.

Johnnie Amonette has an extensive record of local and national community service. She is past president of the American Medical Association Alliance and a former board member of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the UTHSC Foundation, a former member of the UT Board of Trustees, past chair of the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation and a member of the leadership team of Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

After the dedication ceremony, the new UT Dermatology Clinic within the Kaplan-Amonette Dermatology Department was unveiled. The clinic, a joint venture between UTHSC and UT Medical Group (UTMG), has eight rooms for patient care, including six exam rooms, a phototherapy room and a procedure room for skin surgery. Initially, eight faculty members will teach residents, and four of those will also see patients, primarily those with more complex skin disorders.

“This clinic would not have come to be had it not been for some incredible support from our colleagues in the community, namely Bob Kaplan and Rex and Johnnie Amonette,” Dr. Schwarzenberger said. “To have the financial and other support from dermatologists in the community, that degree of philanthropy is just enviable.”

Tours of the clinic, located in Suite 801 of the Hamilton Eye Institute, were conducted. The clinic opened for patients Oct. 14.

“What we’re hoping to do, is build an academically oriented Dermatology Department here that will take care of people with very complicated skin disorders, not just in Memphis, but in the surrounding areas,” Schwarzenberger said. “But also, we want to advance the knowledge base of our specialty, to learn new things and make new discoveries and really help advance the specialty of Dermatology.”