The origins of the Emory School of Medicine date back to 1854 when Atlanta Medical School, the precursor to Emory's medical school, was chartered by the city. In 1915 the Atlanta Medical School joined Emory College, which was expanding to Atlanta from Oxford, GA, and became the Emory University School of Medicine. Dermatology has existed as a specialty in Atlanta since the 1890's, with Dr. Charles Wolff, Sr. being the first dermatologist in the city. Until 1961, training in dermatology was provided essentially only to medical students at Emory University School of Medicine by clinical faculty. In 1961, residency training in Dermatology became available at Emory with the formation of the Division of Dermatology as part of the Department of Medicine. Training directors included Drs. A.C. Brown, Sidney Olansky, Hiram Sturm, and Jordan Whyte.

In 1977, Dermatology gained departmental status with Dr. Henry Earl Jones serving as Chair. In 1984, he was succeeded by Drs. Robert Reitschel and Marilynne McKay who served as Interim Chair from 1984-1985 and 1985-1988 respectively. In 1988, Dr. Thomas Lawley was recruited from the Dermatology Branch of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and became Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology. During his term as Chair, the department grew from three to over twenty full-time faculty members, developing nationally recognized programs in basic research, dermatological surgery, dermatopathology, and dermatological immunology. In 1996, Dr. Lawley was appointed Dean of the Emory University School of Medicine, and Dr. S. Wright Caughman, assumed the position as Chair of the Department of Dermatology in September of 1997. In 2007, Dr. Caughman had assumed both the role of Director of the Emory Clinic and Associate Dean of Clinical Integration of Emory Healthcare and Dr. Robert A. Swerlick served as Interim Chair of the Department until officially being named Chair in August of 2008, a position he holds currently.

The current residency program in Dermatology is approved for nineteen residency positions and covers Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, the Emory Clinic, the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Grady Memorial Hospital, and Egleston Childrens Hospital. Residents interact with twenty three full-time faculty and greater than 25 adjunct faculty members in these clinics, seeing more than 50,000 patient visits annually. The Department participates in fellowship training programs in Pediatric Dermatology, Procedural Dermatology, and Dermatopathology. Medical and allied health students participate in training activities at all our sites. 

The research program includes NIH, VA, and private foundation supported basic, translational, and clinical investigators. The training program offers an unrivalled mix of medical and surgical dermatology, all within an environment that integrates basic and clinical research and performance improvement activities into the training program.