In Memoriam: Vivant Skin Care co-founder Dr. James E. Fulton

Obituaries Friday, July 19, 2013

The world of clinical skin care lost an innovator and true pioneer when Dr. James Edwin Fulton, Jr. died in early July. He was 73.

Surrounded by his wife of 44 years, Vivant Skin Care president Sara M. Fulton; daughter and CEO Kelly Fulton-Kendrick; daughter Susan Fulton-Arregui; son James Edwin Fulton III; and son George Jacob Fulton, Fulton succumbed to colon cancer at Mercy Hospital in Miami. Fulton was co-founder of Vivant Skin Care which is headquartered in Miami Lakes Business Park East. 

"Jim devoted his life to dermatology and his passing will leave a void in the world of skin care," offered Sara Fulton. "He achieved much during his career but his greatest contributions may have been the hope and confidence he instilled in his acne patients."

"We are devastated by the loss of our company founder and my father, but are determined to carry on his legacy," said Fulton-Kendrick. 

Born in Ottumwa, Iowa to Alice Hermann Fulton and James Sr. (a one-time CEO of Cracker Jack), Fulton's interest in dermatology came from the acne struggles he endured as a pre-teen and throughout adulthood.

He earned his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degrees from Tulane University in 1965, and while there, his academic achievements led to his induction into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  While in residency at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, Fulton met his close friend and mentor, Dr. Albert Kligman; together they co-developed Retin-A, a topical form of Vitamin A. 

At the invitation of Dr. Phillip Frost, Fulton relocated to South Florida and earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry under the noted dermatologist Harvey Blank, M.D. from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Together, Fulton and Blank developed a stabilized benzoyl peroxide gel (Panoxyl) and topical erythromycin (E-gel).

In the early 1970's, with his wife Sara, Fulton launched a successful chain of 12 acne clinics called Acne Healthcare centers, opened the Acne Research Institute, and developed and manufactured a line of patented skin care products under the AHC and Face Up brands in their FDA-approved manufacturing facilities. 

During this time he invented a high-speed diamond fraise for dermabrasion, was the first to use aestheticians in a medical office, and developed a paramedical aesthetician training program. In addition, the Fultons co-founded Vivant Skin Care in 1990, a clinical skin care line rooted in Fulton's patented vitamin A therapies.

He actively split time between his research lab at the Vivant Skin Care headquarters in Miami Lakes and Flores Dermatology in Coral Gables, where he continued to see patients until a week before his passing. Fulton served as a mentor and role model for countless leaders in dermatology and aesthetics across the nation. 

Most recently he was part of the volunteer faculty at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology and part of the internship program at St. Thomas University. 

Fulton volunteered his dermatology services to His House Children's Home, a private, non-profit, faith-based foster children organization, to which he provided no-charge medical treatment to the children and hosted an annual Thanksgiving luncheon for the children. In addition to his wife, daughters and sons, he is survived by brother Andy Fulton, son-in-law Richard Arregui, daughter-in-law Isabelle Baranda-Fulton, son-in-law John J. Kendrick III, daughter-in-law Alexandra Hodges-Fulton, nine grandchildren and the thousands of acne patients in whose lives he made a clear difference.

In lieu of flowers, the Fulton family is asking for donations to be made to the Dr. Robert Hsia Memorial Fund, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology, 1600 N.W. 10 Ave., Suite 2023-A, Miami, FL 33136.

An open memorial service was held on Wednesday, July 17, at the St. Stephens Church in Coconut Grove.