Wanting to give back, Christina Lee Chung pursued a career as a doctor. After spending a year as a reproductive health counselor at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, she fully expected to go into women’s health—until she discovered something she loved even more. Also a painter, she likens her other passion, dermatology, to “visual medicine.”
Since her move to the field, Chung has further honed her practice—which currently operates out of Montgomery Dermatology in King of Prussia—to focus on transplant dermatology and cutaneous oncology. She grasped the importance of the field through her work in kidney and pancreas transplants at Drexel University College of Medicine and the now-defunct Hahnemann University Hospital. Chung was motivated by the discovery that transplant patients on immunosuppressants were developing skin cancers.
To further build on that, Chung helped spearhead what she describes as a “multidisciplinary medical/surgical transplant dermatology center”—the first program of its kind. As the director of the Drexel Dermatology Center for Transplant Patients, she and her team found multiple aggressive skin cancer formations in patients, and they began early screening and preventative treatments. “Over the past decade, we’ve really been pioneering this entire model for the delivery of post-transplant dermatological care prevention of transplant disease,” she says.
Further broadening the impact of their research, the team began to focus on those with darker skin tones, offering a far better representation of people on transplant lists. “We were the first to describe skin cancers in non-white transplant recipients,” says Chung.
Her team found that those of Asian, Latino and African heritage developed skin cancers in different areas than Caucasian patients. The research has since been published in several medical journals, shaping global management, screening and treatment protocols for transplant patients.
Outside of medicine, Chung and her husband recently bought the Philadelphia Phoenix, a professional ultimate Frisbee team that competes in Conshohocken. A longtime player, she hopes to increase awareness for the sport and extend it to other area communities. “I want to bring it to a very diverse group of people, and Philadelphia is the perfect place to grow it,” she says. “It’s the ultimate hub of the country, and it’s such a diverse city of people who love sports.”