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David J. Goldberg, MD, JD: Medicine, Law and Business Success

By: Abby Penning
Posted: November 2, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of
David J. Goldberg, MD, JD

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David J. Goldberg, MD, JD, a cosmetic dermatologist based in New Jersey who also has offices in New York and Florida, clearly has a zeal for life. “Everything I see is beautiful—the sky, the trees. It’s easy to be unhappy in life, and no one’s life is perfect, but I always work to make sure I keep my view as the cup being half-full as opposed to half-empty,” he says. “I take my work seriously, but I don’t take anything in life too seriously. You can’t let life kill you.”

It’s an attitude you might expect from a boy who grew up in Arizona with little money who became one of the industry’s most widely regarded figures as the founder and director of his successful practice, Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey; a leader in the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the International Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), the American College of Mohs Surgery and the Dermatological Society of New Jersey, among others; a law professor at Fordham University in New York; and a physician who has garnered a host of accolades, including being the recipient of the ASLMS’s first Leon Goldman Memorial Award, which recognizes contributions in clinical laser research, laser patient care and medical laser education. And his great attitude, combined with his long list of accomplishments, keeps him driving full-steam ahead.

From Arizona to Yale and beyond

“From the time I was about six years old, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Goldberg explains of his early medical ambitions. He met the founder of the Arizona Heart Institute, Edward B. Diethrich, MD, an open heart surgeon who treated Goldberg’s father when Goldberg was young, and Dr. Diethrich helped guide his career. “He took a liking to me and recognized that maybe I had some abilities beyond my then-current career path, which was probably to be a truck driver,” Goldberg explains with a laugh. “He ended up taking me under his wing, mentored me and eventually helped me get into Yale’s medical school.”

Spurred on to pursue his dream, Goldberg first attended Yeshiva University in New York, graduating in 1976, then enrolled in the Yale School of Medicine, where he intended to follow in the footsteps of his mentor. “I was going to be an open heart surgeon too, but then my wife and I had our first daughter, and the time commitment to cardiothoracic surgery was so great—I decided that I wanted a life in addition to my medical career,” he says.

Graduating cum laude, Goldberg earned his medical degree from Yale in 1980 and decided to focus his medical prowess on dermatology. While his family—which today includes his wife, three daughters and one son—continued to grow, he completed a dermatology residency and dermatologic surgical fellowship at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “When I was doing my training there, I realized how much I missed the surgery part of medicine,” Goldberg states. “So I got involved in Mohs surgery for skin cancers, and from there started doing more work in a new field which, at that time, was in its infancy—laser surgery and cosmetic dermatology.”