Born in Detroit Michigan, Dr. Fern P. Nelson graduated from Wellesley College (1975) and University of Michigan Medical School (1980). Her dermatology residency was completed at University of Illinois where she remained as an Assistant Clinical Instructor teaching dermatology residents and students. She served as Division Chair of Dermatology at West Side Veterans Administration Hospital, was well as having a private practice (1984-2000). Dr. Nelson joined the faculty of the Department of Dermatology at UCSD upon her move to southern California in 2002. She was head of medical student education in Dermatology as well as teaching dermatology residents until her recent retirement in 2020. Dr. Nelson is a founding member of the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art, and member of the Balboa Park Conservancy.