2007_06_moles.jpgChalk it up to the Wall Street Journal for making moles so interesting. The WSJ has an article about how a pioneering medical procedure and disturbing nude photos have rocked the world of dermatology. Bill Slue, an NYU Medical Center photographer who "devised a way to capture the whole body on film using 24 sectional photographs," which helps dermatologists monitor patients' moles. But now there's a dispute about whether he took photographs of female patients for his own pleasure.

In 2003, an NYU employee, Anne Stoecker, prompted the investigation of Slue's practices, with complaints of harassment (not to mention one about how he operated a private total-body-photography business from his NYU office). There was also a sting, with an undercover female agent "chosen based on Ms. Stoecker's description of the physical characteristics that attracted Mr. Slue.":

During the photo session with [undercover agent who used the name Iris] Cortez, which the agent recorded on a hidden camera, Mr. Slue took several pictures with a 35-millimeter film camera in addition to digital images. He says Ms. Cortez posed a technical challenge because she had few, if any, obvious moles. He used his film camera, which he felt produced a superior image, to take backup shots, he says.

When the slides from the Cortez session came back from the lab, Ms. Stoecker secretly took them from Mr. Slue's briefcase, photographed them and returned them. She showed the nine images to a compliance officer and several NYU administrators. They were disturbed. The images did not look like the kind of pictures that appeared in total-body photo albums because they included Ms. Cortez's face, breasts and sometimes genitals in a single picture.

Slue was fired by NYU in 2004. He then turned around to sue NYU for wrongful termination, which was dismissed by a judge, and now makes about $40,000/year (when he had worked at NYU as the supervisor of the dermatology center's photography unit, he made $170,000). The article by Rachel Zimmerman itself is much more detailed and extremely intriguing - conflicts of interest, professional jealousy, creepy boss, medical innovation, oh my!

Here are the Department of Health's suggestions for preventing skin cancer; monitoring your moles is one of them.