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Dr. John Olerud retires after 50 years with UW, Endowed Chair named in his honor

October 9, 2020
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CakeDr. John Olerud, professor emeritus and former Division Head, retires from clinical activity after 50 years at the UW and a 41-year career in the Division of Dermatology.

Tuesday, Oct. 6th, marked Dr. Olerud's last day in the clinic and the legacy he leaves behind was represented by the celebratory gift brought to him by his final patient. 

Over 50 Years of Service

Dr. Olerud's career in medicine began after earning his B.S. in zoology from Washington State University (WSU), where he was named to the NCAA All-American Baseball Team in 1965. He began medical school at the University of Washington School of Medicine, earning his M.D. in 1971, and stayed at the UW for his residencies (both internal medicine and dermatology), finally joining the Dermatology faculty in 1978. 

Dr. Olerud is renowned for his research, with over 100 publications on a variety of skin conditions and treatment modalities as well as his patient care. Over the years, Dr. Olerud has cared for countless patients and has received various honors, notably the Seattle Top Doc designation, chosen by patients, for over 10 years.

"I deeply appreciate Dr. Olerud's thoughtful interest and insights that have resulted in greater comfort for me. His listening ability and kind, straightforward approach are truly remarkable. It has been a pleasure interacting with the many students over the years, and Dr. Olerud's sense of humor makes office visits memorable." -Dr. Olerud's patient of over 20 years

Impact on Colleagues and Trainees

Dr. OlerudDr. Olerud is especially recognized for his contributions to the education of students and residents. He served as Director of the Dermatology Residency Program until he was named Division Head in 1988 and was the first recipient of the George F. Odland Chair in Dermatology in 1989. The Division of Dermatology established The John E. Olerud Resident Teaching Award and the John E. Olerud Professorship in Dermatology Training in his honor in 2005 and 2007 respectively. He served as Division Head until stepping down in 2014, and has remained on the faculty as an influential educator, researcher and care provider. 

"Thank you for your wisdom and unwavering commitment to patients, trainees and faculty over all these years. The standard of excellence you set for yourself compels each of us to be the best we can be. Thank-you for your wise counsel, encouraging words and simply believing in the good you find around all of us. I know that belief will linger in my life and in many of the others who have been fortunate enough to have you as a mentor." -Dr. Andrea Kalus, former resident, current Associate Professor, UW Dermatology

Cementing Dr. Olerud's Legacy

The Division of Dermatology celebrated Dr. Olerud's retirement at the 2020 Pommerening Memorial Lecture held on October 9, 2020. The annual event features celebrations of the accomplishments from the Division over the last year, notable case discussions and a keynote address, this year's being “Practical Psychodermatology with a Focus on Morgellon’s Syndrome and Body Dysmorphic Disorder” from John Koo, MD, Professor of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco. 

This year's event also featured the announcement of a generous gift made by Dr. Michael Piepkorn, clinical professor in the Division of Dermatology, to elevate the Olerud Professorship to an Endowed Chair position. The Olerud Endowed Chair will further support the Residency Program and Program Director to provide exceptional educational opportunities and cements Dr. Olerud's impactful legacy to the benefit of generations of educators and trainees to come. 

Watch the Celebration

To learn more about Dr. Olerud's long career in the Division of Dermatology, listen to the Story Archive interview with Dr. Olerud.

This interview was conducted by several dermatology faculty with Dr. Olerud to reflect on and discuss how he has created an enriching teaching environment at UW Dermatology over the years.

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