The dissertation goes international

In the preliminary phase of my PhD, much of my (our) research had already been published in international medical journals, but of course people did not know that this was all in the context of my thesis. The dermato-allergological world knew me not only from the articles, but also from the books Patch testing and Unwanted effects of cosmetics and drugs used in dermatology. Even then my vanity was already considerable, so I decided to draw international attention to the dissertation, which was written in English and also contained a lot of practically relevant information. And I really wanted my ardent wish from the thesis to make ingredient labeling mandatory in the European Union (which was then called the European Economic Community) come through. Moreover, I was thinking about commercial exploitation of the book (I had a large edition of 800 copies of the thesis printed) and that had to be advertised. Advertisements in scientific journals such as Contact Dermatitis, Archives of Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology were of course possible, but they were very expensive and I would also have to hire people to make an attractive, eye-catching and appealing advertisement. Instead, I decided to send dissertations to the most famous people in dermato-allergology. I mainly looked at the journal Contact Dermatitis, where you could find author names as well as their addresses. That was sometimes a bit difficult, because the professors are often mentioned as the last author and the address of the first author was not necessarily the address I was looking for. At that time, the internet did not exist and there were no associations such as the European Society of Contact Dermatitis and the American Contact Dermatitis Society (which would be founded shortly afterwards), where you could get such information.

And so I sent about 40 dissertations to well-known names in dermato-allergology in Europe, the United States and a few other countries. After only a week or two I received a large number of responses with thanks and appreciation. I have kept them all, among them are some of the 'greats of the earth' in the field of dermato-allergology including Niels Hjorth (Denmark), Sigfrid Fregert (Sweden), Jean Foussereau (France), Matti Hannuksela (Finland), Jan Wahlberg (Sweden), José Camarasa (Spain), Carlo Meneghini (Italy), Etain Cronin (United Kingdom), Jean-Marie Lachapelle (Belgium) and John Ebling (United Kingdom; not a dermatoallergologist, but one of the authors of the famous Rook's textbook of dermatology).

Naturally, I sent copies of the thesis to some medical journals, including Contact Dermatitis. And, as he had done before, Richard Rycroft wrote another delightful book review. He had also neatly picked out my recommendation to strive for Ingredient labeling in Europe and put it in the spotlight with his discussion. He and I are still in touch, although Richard has not been active as a dermatologist for many years.

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