Jaggi Rao

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 38

Job Title: Founder and Medical Director, Telederm Canada

Why He’s Top 40: He has broadened the depth of his field by training new residents, developing protocols and creating ways for more patients to gain access to specialist care.

Key To Success:  “Research brings creativity to my clinical practice. You can build on ideas – and there’s the joy in finding something new.”

He has perfect skin. But you might expect that of Jaggi Rao. After all, he’s an associate clinical professor of medicine with the University of Alberta and founder of Acne Clinics of Canada and Telederm Canada, a virtual dermatology clinic. And despite his relative youth, he heads the province’s largest post-graduate program to train future dermatologists.

Rao has an overt enthusiasm for his work. Nothing grosses him out, at least as far as skin goes. But you’d probably expect that, too.

Seated at a computer in a spare windowless office inside the Clinical Sciences Building, Rao clicks on an image in a Telederm consult file that reveals the lower leg of a hiker who had been pricked by a cactus in Arizona months before. The man’s physician sent the file, including the picture of a raw, 11-centimetre ulcer, to Telederm. Rao ordered tests that revealed that the man had a rare, but treatable, fungal infection.

“Dermatology is very visual,” Rao explains, “and it lends itself to this kind of solution.” Telederm, which Rao runs with four other dermatologists, makes specialized services available to people who would otherwise not get it. And it saves the system a chunk of change. A Telederm consult costs a fraction of an in-person consult and goes far to address long wait-lists. It eases the burden in under-resourced jurisdictions, too.

Piggybacking on Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, Telederm has a philanthropic outreach arm that serves cases much farther afield, with Rao and his partners receiving consult requests from Africa.

For Rao, the key to maintaining a sense of delight in his job is to divide his professional time into four parts: clinical, research, business and administration. Each aspect informs the others, he says. Making administrative gains allows him more clinical time. Cutting-edge research boosts his practice and gives him business ideas. Creating protocols for family doctors and nurse practitioners to manage garden-variety acne frees up specialists’ time for more serious cases.

And, in derm, the gadgets are pretty cool, so whichever way you unfold the page, Rao is having fun.

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