Louis A. Duhring

An Irish boilermaker, the first patient in which Duhring recognized the hallmark features of gluten allergy.

For the inaugural post of save the moulages, we are highlighting a founding-father of dermatology in the United States, Louis A. Duhring.  He was a proponent of moulage to teach dermatology and was the first physician to describe and recognize the unique set of cutaneous disease associated with gluten allergy.


Duhring created a unifying diagnosis for patients with a specific set of symptoms– namely: severe burning and itching, with a herpetiform arrangement of lesions, following a waxing and waning course over years.  He called this condition “Dermatitis Herpetiformis.”  This was no small feat as there were no less than 15 different names being used for patients with itchy blistering conditions of the skin at the time of his publication in 1884.

Louis Duhring went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1867, then took an internship at Blockley Almshouse (which later became a part of Philadelphia General Hospital).

From 1868- 1870, Duhring traveled to London, Paris and Vienna specifically to hone his knowledge in dermatology.  He returned in 1889 to attend the First World Congress of Dermatology in…you guessed it –Paris, France at the Hopital Saint Louis.

In 1870, Duhring returned to Philadelphia and established the Dispensary for Skin Diseases in 1871, which was later absorbed by Jefferson Medical College Hospital.  He became the first Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1875, and was a founding member of the first national society of dermatology, The American Dermatological Association in 1876.

The University of Pennsylvania is the nation’s oldest dermatology department, and was financially supported by Duhring upon his death in 1913.  Duhring was frugal and amassed a large estate (1.6 million dollars, equal to roughly 39.5 million in 2017) during his life through a series of successful investments.

In his will and testament, he donated $400,000, or the equivalent of 10 million dollars, to the Department of Dermatology the majority earmarked for the maintenance and preservation of his moulage collection, most of which he acquired in his travels to Europe. The remainder was used to build the Duhring Annex at the university’s medical library.

Jackson, R.  Duhring on dermatitis herpetiformis. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 1999; 3(6): 336-338.
Parish LC.  Louis A. Duhring, MD: the centennial of his death.  Skinmed. 2013; 11: 134-136.
Duhring LA. Dermatitis Herpetiformis. JAMA. 1983; 250(2): 212-216.
Beerman H, Beerman ES. A meeting of two famous benefactors of the library of the University of Pennsylvania—Louis Adolphus
Duhring and Theodore Dreiser. See comment in PubMed Commons belowTrans Stud Coll Physicians Phila. 1974 Jul;42(1):43-8

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Faculty at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern. interests: cutaneous lymphomas, medical student education, the relationship between art and medicine.

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