Pediatric dermatologist, Johns Hopkins Children's Center In college Kate Puttgen was torn between the loftiness of liberal arts and science, which couldn't be more grounded. She gravitated toward both, majoring in history but taking organic chemistry and physics as electives. Ultimately she decided that with medicine she could satisfy both interests, the biology of it all, of course, but also, linguistically, the art of communicating with patients. "I was intrigued by the human body and what it could do," she says. "Being a good physician isn't just about science and biology exclusively." When it came time to choose disciplines, she wasn't any more eager to choose between surgery and internal medicine, settling on dermatology, where she had a taste of both. "You think like an internist and see how disease affects a person from the inside out, and at the same time, there's a fair number of outpatient procedures," says Puttgen, who lives in Mount Washington with her husband. Puttgen spends most of her time with her young patients, helping them with itchy eczema, acne, birthmarks, moles and rashes -- everything from the benign to the dangerous. Recently Puttgen, who has her own four-month-old son, saw a baby girl, half of her face deformed by a vascular growth. Her patients couldn't have been more anxious. She prescribed steroids and when nothing happened, she admitted the girl to the hospital and started her on another medication that, almost instantly, began to shrink and soften the growth. The parents were ecstatic. She's lost track of how many kids have come in with severe acne, kids who'd stare at the floor in embarrassment only to turn smiling and vivacious once she has helped clear their skin. In addition to researching treatments for hemangioma, commonly known as strawberry marks, Puttgen is working on an Internet-based tool that allows doctors at Hopkins to consult on far-away dermatology cases. "Dermatology is really a quality of life specialty," she says. "You really can make a big difference for these children and teenagers."
Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun