GlobalSkin Conference ELEVATE 2023 Recap

From June 1-4, 2023, GlobalSkin hosted ELEVATE 2023, a conference exclusively designed for dermatology patient organization leaders. The event, which took place at the Crowne Plaza in Brussels, Belgium, welcomed 200 participants. This diverse group comprised 142 patient leaders from 124 organizations spanning across 53 countries, as well as speakers, sponsors, and stakeholders. 

Over the four days, we focused on what it means to Elevate — ourselves as patient leaders, each other, and the communities we all serve, and our cause for better treatment and care for persons living with skin diseases/conditions. 

The conference featured a lineup of experts from various fields, including dermatology, research, advocacy, and regional health systems. Attendees received updates on the latest issues facing dermatology patients and patient organizations and were provided with opportunities for interactive discussions with industry representatives. Patient leaders also took part in diverse capacity-building workshops encompassing a wide range of topics aimed at empowering them and expanding their organizations’ initiatives. 

Elevate 2023

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Conference Highlights

Pre-Conference Forums

  1. The RareDERM Forum boasted participation from 40 members with representation spanning across 26 countries. The forum began with presentations from three experts on the opportunities and challenges in RareDERM from a policy, research, and industry perspective. These presentations and discussions set the stage for various strategic planning activities later in the day. A highlight of this gathering and key to the strategic planning was the World Café. This activity had Members moving from table to table engaging in thought-provoking conversations on topics pertinent to the RareDERM Community.  The table hosts provided a summary of these conversations, giving an in-depth overview of the Community’s collective thoughts on the various topics. 
  1. The Atopic Eczema Forum drew in 28 members and 9 partners from over 20 countries around the world. The forum featured a presentation highlighting the power of consistent data. Furthermore, the gathering offered a platform for members to recount their experiences and insights from successful projects. Notably, five members seized this opportunity, sharing key learnings from their respective achievements. A workshop was also conducted as part of the forum, focusing on shared decision-making with healthcare professionals. 

Conference Program Round-Up

  • "Elevating Ourselves, Elevating Each Other" where GlobalSkin Members presented case studies demonstrating the importance of looking after their own mental wellness along with the mental wellness of their patient communities.  Durhane Wong Reiger, a leading figure in rare disease advocacy, introduced the session by emphasizing the significance of elevating oneself in empowering the wider community.
  • "Elevating Together for our Cause" where Jose Antonio Ruiz-Postigo from the World Health Organization discussed the importance of collective advocacy for skin-related issues and the organization's global initiatives to elevate patient organizations and integrate patient experiences into their global efforts, ensuring equitable healthcare for all.
  • "Reasons to Hope: Advancement of Dermatological Care and Treatment" featuring Dr. Aida Habtezion from Pfizer, who acknowledged the struggles of dermatological patients, particularly those with the 3000+ diseases with limited or no cure and provided hope for enhanced patient outcomes through insights into the future possibilities of improved care and treatment.  

  • "4 Things that Will Change the Face of Dermatology" featuring Dr. Jonathan White with an introduction by Dr. Lars French, who discussed the latest research, challenges, opportunities in the research/clinical space of skin diseases and conditions 

  • "The Power of GRIDD's Verifiable Data" featuring Jennifer Austin (GlobalSkin) and Dr. Rachael Pattinson (Cardiff University) who shed light on the role of patient data in improving care, launched the Global Research on the Impact of Dermatological Diseases (GRIDD) study as a key data collection initiative, and emphasized the importance of patient participation in making it a success. Learn more about the GRIDD Study here. 

  • "Supporting Patients Together – Uniting for Collaboration: Patient Organizations and Industry" featuring representatives from leading pharmaceutical companies working in dermatology, who shared their experiences on how they are integrating patient-centricity into their corporate cultures, medicines development processes and patient relations. 

  • "Advocating for Skin—Locally, Nationally, Regionally and Globally” involving Rachel Adhiambo Ogola (Eczema Society of Kenya), Kelly Barta (President, Coalition of Skin Diseases – USA), Susanna Palkonen (Director at EFA - Belgium), Jennifer Austin (GlobalSkin CEO - Canada), who presented case studies on how they are elevating the cause for skin health at local, national, regional, and global levels. 

  • Regional Meetings where attendees shared knowledge and experiences to collaboratively advocate for skin health while addressing specific regional needs, challenges, and opportunities. 

  • Daily Capacity Building Workshops which included compliance and patient engagement with pharmaceutical companies, measuring and communicating impact, engaging young people, working with regulators and decision-makers and more.  

  • Slides and presentations: GlobalSkin Members can access slides from many of the conference presentations in the Members Area of our website – please login and go to the "Elevate 2023 Conference" section to view and download the documents. 


Networking and Other Conference Features

  • Welcome Reception, One World Dinner, and Patient Village 
    Delegates were treated to many networking opportunities and gatherings throughout the weekend. These events allowed for connections with old friends and to make new acquaintances.   

  • Patient Leader Awards 
    GlobalSkin celebrated the achievements of its members with the prestigious Patient Leader Awards, honoring their leadership at local, regional, and global levels. The awards highlighted efforts in Innovating, Collaborating, Championing, and Elevating the patient voice. 

    Details of award winners in each category are as follows:  

    The Innovator Award: PSORVIET, Eczema Society of Kenya & Naevus Global for their innovative approach in program development and patient support. 

    The Collaborator Award: Susan Thornton (Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation), Kelly Barta (Coalition for Skin Diseases), and Annemarie Sluijmers (Lupus Europe) for their efforts in fostering productive conversations, providing useful insights, asking compelling questions and treating all Members with respect within the RareDERM, Atopic Eczema, and GlobalSkin Europe communities respectively. 

    The Champion Award: Antoine Gliksohn (Global Albinism Alliance & Genespoir) and Ritu Jain (DEBRA International & Singapore) for their exceptional patient advocacy efforts. 

    The ELEVATE Creative Award (along with a cash prize of 750 CAD): Toni Roberts (DEBRA South Africa) whose submission received the highest number of votes for its creativity, and beautifully captured the essence of "ELEVATE" and its significance in the work she does with/for her patient organization.


Live Illustrator

To add a distinct and captivating touch to the conference, a live illustrator was present throughout. The illustrator turned spoken words into compelling visual narratives, allowing attendees to absorb and remember key points more easily. This artistic addition to the conference created a memorable and visually stimulating experience, leaving a lasting impression on all participants.

Click here to see all of the live-illustration artwork from the conference.


Event Feedback


Thank you for attending! 

A big thank you to all participants, speakers, exhibitors, and event sponsors whose vital contributions helped make ELEVATE 2023 a truly remarkable event. Hosting our esteemed guests in Brussels was an absolute delight. We look forward to welcoming back all our dermatology patient leaders in 2025.

Thank you to our generous 2023 sponsors: