[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 1976

Cutaneous Immunology—Then and Now: Reflections on the Period 1876 to 1976

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Arch Dermatol. 1976;112(ANIVERSARY):1661-1665. doi:10.1001/archderm.1976.01630360029008

As one reflects and reviews in perspective the developments in cutaneous immunology, it is necessary to do so from a rather subjective viewpoint. Therefore, I will focus my discussion on a comparison of cutaneous immunology in the mid-1930s with its present day status. It was at that particular time that I had some conversations with Marion Sulzberger about cutaneous immunology. That experience proved to be so stimulating that it motivated me to select the field of dermatology for my life's work.

The first remarkable concept with which I was impressed at that time was von Pirquet's definition of "allergy." According to this definition, exposure to one and the same allergen could bring about changes that could lead either to increased or decreased skin sensitivity or to both simultaneously.1 Previous observations by Jenner in 1798 had shown that patients who had received a cowpox vaccination developed increased skin sensitivity to