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When David Vasily M.D. ’71 attended Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Moravian College was a popular destination for graduating seniors. And especially for those interested in entering the medical profession, as he was, Moravian’s reputation carried a lot of weight.
“Liberty was a huge school, with more than 1,000 students in each graduating class, so when I visited Moravian’s campus, it felt more intimate and accessible. It was just one of those things,” Vasily remembers. “Something hit me and I realized Moravian was an incubator for learning. Just by the feel of the campus, I knew I could really focus on studying and academics.”
One of Vasily’s neighbors was a language professor at Moravian. Bernard Mikofsky had also suggested the College because of its strong pre-med program, and the professor knew Vasily wanted to be a doctor. Although the biology department was small, it had a good track record of getting students into medical school and the small class size and teaching approach helped make up his mind.
“The idea that you were being taught by actual Ph.D.’s—experts in their fields—was a real plus,” he says. “I went with my intuition, and have never regretted my decision. I really enjoyed the school; I feel I received a phenomenal education; and I made very good friends while there.”
One of Vasily’s strongest memories is of the research opportunities he was afforded in Moravian’s Honors Program. He cites Jim Mitchell, his biology professor, as kindling his interest in research, something Vasily still does today.
Vasily’s honors project with Mitchell was identifying ciliates-protozoans that live in animals’ stomachs. The pair classified and identified species in Pennsylvania cattle and did advanced microscopy, what he calls “unheard of at the time—to section a one-celled organism.” The project was well-received and was subsequently published in a peer-reviewed journal. “That was a prestigious accomplishment for a young guy,” he says.
Another professor, Ed Roeder, encouraged Vasily’s interest in physics, lasers and optics. That young enthusiasm still exists in Vasily’s work today with cosmetic laser surgery and laser research.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude with honors in Biology from Moravian, Vasily attended medical school in Buffalo, N.Y. After graduation, he did his residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital in medicine and then dermatology at Geisinger Medical Center. His first practice was at Muhlenberg Hospital where he set up the first inpatient dermatological care unit for seriously ill skin patients—those in need of light treatments and other high-end care. He worked there for about ten years, but also opened his practice at its current location on New Street in Bethlehem during that time, in 1984. (www.lehighvalleyderm.com)
A wrestling injury in his junior year of high school kept Vasily from wrestling at Moravian, but he combined his love of the sport with his dermatology training, and became team dermatologist to the Lehigh University wrestling team in 1979. He also consults to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) and has authored guidelines on skin infections in wrestlers for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), and recently Vasily co-wrote the position statement for the National Athlete Trainers Association (NATA). “It’s the go-to guide nationwide when there’s an outbreak of any skin infections or conditions among collegiate wrestlers,” he explains.
In addition to consulting for multiple companies in the use of lasers to treat skin conditions, Vasily also founded a laser center, Aesthetica Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Center on Chelsea Avenue in Bethlehem. The center has multiple lasers and does a wide variety of skin treatments including removal of unwanted hair, wrinkles, and tattoos, rejuvenates skin, and treats acne and rosacea. (www.ilovemyskin.com)
Although active with Beta Lambda Chi fraternity while a student at Moravian, Vasily says he spent most of his time studying and doing research. “I had to stay focused. I was intense, and that probably has something to do with where I am today.
“Moravian gave me the tools. It gave me the insight and allowed my work with biology and dermatology to be synthesized with the physics of lasers. Moravian created a well-rounded individual in me,” he says. “It wasn’t just the science, but also the liberal arts background which rounded me out as a human being.”
"Moravian gave me the tools I needed to succeed, and created a well-rounded individual in me."