A Week of Master Knowledge: C.C. Zouboulis, a World-Class Dermatology Expert, Sharing Expertise with the LSMU Community

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Last week, a conference “Neurodermatology and Rare Skin Diseases” was held by the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases of the Faculty of Medicine of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU) in collaboration with the Kaunas Region Society of Dermatology and Venereology. The event sought to share global expertise with dermatology and venereology specialists as well as medical professionals from other disciplines.

During the event, the specialists had the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the differential diagnosis of rare skin diseases and discuss recent developments in their treatment.

The conference attracted over 50 attendees and featured presentations by Prof. Dr. Kęstutis Petrikonis, LSMU Vice-Rector for Studies, Dr. Kamilija Briedė, resident doctors Živilė Gabdrafikė, Erikas Mažeika, and others.

The highlight of the conference was a lecture by Professor Christos C. Zouboulis. This world-class expert of Greek origin shared his expertise on treating Behcet’s disease with the participants and talked about the role of biological therapies in the new guidelines for hidradenitis suppurativa.

Striving to Attract More High-Level Experts

Prof. Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis leads the Department of Dermatology, Venereology, Allergology and Immunology and Laboratory of the Dessau Medical Centre, as well as the Laboratory of Biogerontology, Dermatopharmacology and Dermato-Endocrinology. He is the coordinator of the ALLOCATE group of the European Reference Network for Rare Skin Diseases (ERN-Skin).

The professor’s scientific and practical interests include general dermatology, dermato-endocrinology, and rare skin diseases. He is the author of 782 peer-reviewed articles, 34 books, 167 book chapters, and 6 patents, and has delivered more than 700 lectures at international and national congresses.

His visit to LSMU was no exception – the professor gave lectures to the University’s students and residents for the whole week. His main areas of research include the pathophysiology of the sebaceous glands, related skin diseases (acne, hidradenitis suppurativa), skin ageing and rare skin diseases. This gave the lecture audience the chance to find out everything they were interested in these areas.

The visit of the renowned expert was funded by the Education Exchanges Support Foundation (ŠMPF) under the call “Highly Competent Foreign Lecturers for Short-Term Teaching Visits 2023”. This call is also open to other academic units of the University.

“We have been acknowledged and already have the experience, so guest lecturers of increasingly higher levels visit LSMU every year. The visit by experts like Christos C. Zouboulis not only expands the horizons of students and PhDs, but also gives rise to new scientific ideas in their minds. Our ambition is to attract as many lecturers of such calibre as possible and to make sure that their visits last as long as possible. We want the knowledge they bring to stay with us and the collaboration to continue.

As a professor at the Department of Neurology, I hope that the collaboration with Prof. Christos Zouboulis will give a serious boost to the research and early diagnosis of neurodermatology, specifically of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and others in this group. He is a person of rare erudition encompassing a great variety of advanced ideas and communication skills. It is therefore especially pleasing to us that he enjoys Lithuania, LSMU and our young and inquisitive colleagues,” said Prof. Dr. K. Petrikonis, Vice-Rector for Studies of LSMU. He presented the guest with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Rector of LSMU.

In autumn, the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases will welcome two more distinguished professors, Prof. Harald Gollnick from the University of Magdeburg-Otto von Guericke in Germany and Prof. Jacek C. Szepietowski from the University of Wroclaw in Poland.

A total of 14 lecturers of high expertise from abroad will have visited LSMU this year under the above-mentioned invitation of the Education Exchanges Support Foundation.

Cooperation Continues

In addition to his lectures and participation in the conference, Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis also visited the laboratory of the LSMU Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, where he has been engaged as a senior researcher under the project “Immunomodulatory Potential of Characterized Extracellular Vesicles for Innovative Treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HIDRA)”, conducted by a research group and funded by the Research Council of Lithuania. The results will be used for the preparation of Vaiva Jariene’s doctoral thesis.

The professor has been collaborating with the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases of the LSMU Faculty of Medicine since 2022. The last time he visited Kaunas was before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was under his initiative that the preparatory works for the establishment of the Centre for Rare Skin Diseases (currently headed by Assoc. Prof. Vesta Kučinskienė) at Kaunas Clinics, were launched. The Centre was accredited for ERN-Skin activities in 2017 and is still the only centre of this kind in the Baltic region.

“Since my last visit, LSMU infrastructure has grown significantly. In a very short period of time, many new, modern buildings have sprung up, something you don’t often see in Europe. This is very important because it makes no difference which country a university is located in. What matters is its aspirations and efforts to provide high-quality practical training for students,” the professor shared his impressions.

Christos C. Zouboulis has also revealed that he intends to continue his cooperation with our University.

“I see Lithuania as a country that invests in the future of young doctors and strives to ensure high quality in dermatology. I am very happy to be able to contribute to this to a certain extent. It is an honour to exchange knowledge with colleagues, to train young people and to motivate them in both clinical and experimental dermatology, and we will continue to work together,” the professor said.

Prof. C.C. Zouboulis concluded his visit with a lecture at the Kaunas Clinics Internal Medicine Conference for specialists. At the lecture, he talked about the pathogenesis of autoinflammatory skin diseases in relation to internal diseases. The exchange of scientific and practical knowledge will take place again in 2024, at the conference “Neurodermatology”, organised by the Kaunas Region Society of Dermatology and Venereology and Kaunas Region Society of Neurologists. The event will be dedicated to the World Rare Diseases Day. 

Feedback from Residents

“Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis is characterised by exceptional professionalism and dedication to the work he loves. The lively interaction with such a high-level expert motivates students, residents, and young researchers alike, encouraging them to deepen their knowledge in their respective fields. The professor is my doctoral advisor, so during the visit we had time to discuss the challenges encountered, I received useful advice on dealing with them, and we planned future work. I very much appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the professor and conduct research in the field of experimental dermatology,” Vaiva Jarienė, a doctoral student at the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases, shared her thoughts after the meeting with the professor.

“I am delighted that we had the opportunity to attend the lectures of Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis, to learn, to gain more insights, and to hear about the challenges in dermatology from one of the world’s top experts. During his lectures, the professor focused on the pathogenesis of skin diseases, repeatedly emphasizing the importance of staying up to date with the latest research, shared his best practices, and explained how this was useful in his clinical practice. To become a good specialist, you need to work hard and study hard – this is how Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis motivated us,” said Reda Žilinskienė, a resident doctor at the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the lectures of Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis. It was an invaluable experience that gave me new knowledge and perspectives. Prof. Zouboulis is a true expert in rare skin diseases and the discussions and lectures with him were not only informative but also inspiring. I appreciate his time and effort in sharing his knowledge and experience with us,” said Erikas Mažeika, a resident doctor at the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases. He gave a master’s thesis presentation in which he applied high-frequency ultrasound and thermography to hidradenitis suppurativa, using it to highlight the boundaries of inflammation in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. According to Prof. C.C. Zouboulis, this method is genuine, and thermography could be developed under joint projects to design a medical device.

“It was a great honour for the students and resident doctors to learn the clinical examination and patient communication skills, and Prof. Christos C. Zouboulis is a true master here. We discussed several complex clinical cases with dermatology and venereology specialists, pathologists, and the professor. The professor shared extremely useful advice and helped to draw up further examination and treatment plans for these patients. We very much appreciate the visit by Professor Christos C. Zouboulis to our department,” said Gabrielė Vengalytė, a resident doctor at the Department of Skin and Venereal Diseases.