The Utmost Human Face of Dr. Gabriel Serrano

The Utmost Human Face of Dr. Gabriel Serrano The Enterprise World

“I feel I have a moral duty to help those who have not had the same luck or opportunities as I have in life…”

Dr. Gabriel Serrano’s unwavering belief is that he is primarily a doctor before being a businessman. Similarly, as someone who graduated from the University of Valencia with a medical degree, he continued to practice as a dermatologist on his own dermatology clinic in Valencia. Now, when he is not attending international congresses or visiting various subsidiaries of the group, he dedicates his time to provide medical care to his patients.

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, he moved to Spain at the age of 16. Medicine was always a clear choice for him, influenced by his family background with both his father and grandfather being doctors. Following the completion of his studies in Dermatology and Veneorology at University of Valencia, he worked at the University General Hospital in Valencia as a resident doctor. He then became Head of Dermatology and Emergency Services, where he remained for more than 25 years. Dr. Gabriel Serrano completed his training with post-graduate studies in Philadelphia, Charleston, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Innsbruck.

In 1976, after establishing his dermatological clinic in Valencia, he recognized the necessity of developing products to address his patients’ specific skin conditions. This realization led him to found Sesderma Laboratories in 1989, as a mean to create innovative solutions and provide effective skincare products.

One day more than 15 years ago, at an uncertain point of the road that crosses the immense swamp between Barranquilla and Santa Marta, in Colombia, Dr. Gabriel Serrano stopped the car in which he was traveling to eat a couple of arepas with egg and a chinola juice in one of the many street stalls that mark this route. He sat down and enjoyed for a while those flavors that he longed for so much, because he lived in Valencia, in Spain, since he was 19 years old.

While drinking a café largo, a girl with very vivid eyes and a careless appearance caught his attention: she was almost barefoot and poorly dressed. He grew interested in her, learned about the conditions in which she lived with her family, her most pressing needs and greatest dreams, and from that moment on took charge of her education, paid for her books, paid for many expenses of the whole family and personally committed himself to do everything in his power so that she could have better opportunities in life and get out of that environment of poverty. 

Helping those most disadvantaged, offering development opportunities to those who have near to nothing, engaging with those most in need, is in Dr. Gabriel Serrano’s DNA because he learned it from his father, a vocational doctor like the one who traveled on foot or on horseback the fields and roads of Barranquilla to care for the sick, many of whom paid him with a huacal of fresh eggs or a pair of mangoes.

Founder and president of Laboratorios SESDERMA, prestigious dermatologist, university professor, researcher and entrepreneur, Dr. Gabriel Serrano is at the head of a multinational company with presence in more than 80 countries across four continents. Although he has traveled the world many times and his latest success is the clinic that has opened at the Dubai Mall, the largest and most exclusive shopping center, Dr. Gabriel Serrano continues to treat a child with very high fever on the street, aided by the feeble light of a mobile phone, or to launch various initiatives in different countries to try to help people who lack resources.

Dr. Gabriel Serrano, what drives you to help people?

It is an act of justice. I feel privileged for the blessings that life has given me: a wonderful family that offered me the opportunities for me to develop as a person and for me to be able to study in Spain. I had wonderful parents who knew how to provide me with a lot of love while being examples of high standards and responsibility, qualities that have defined me over the years and I have tried to teach my children because I think what is most important is that they are good people, responsible, generous, and supportive. 

I have traveled all over the world and the reality is that millions of people in dozens of countries do not have the minimum conditions to get out of poverty and need help, a push that will allow them to overcome the barriers that prevent them from advancing and improving their living conditions.  As I have had a long career of personal, professional, and business success, I believe that I have a moral duty to return a part of what I accomplished to people who have not been as lucky or have the same opportunities as I did. I feel this repayment as an obligation towards society, so that the less fortunate will have new opportunities.  

We know that one of its first solidarity initiatives was the Bali Foundation…

Yes, this is an action I launched more than 10 years ago following a visit to Bali, Indonesia. Our guide, Budi, was a very spiritual and extraordinarily generous person who helped a community of very, very poor people living in the jungle. Budi introduced me to a family whose members were all blind and therefore depended absolutely on the charity of others.

After this meeting we built them a small house, we bought them some domestic animals for self-consumption and—most importantly—we offered them to work in the assembly of the needles for our NANOPORE, so they ceased to depend on the charity of others and went on to have a paid job with which they could earn a living and take their children to school. My greatest satisfaction is to see how their lives changed and how they had a real chance of getting out of poverty. 

From what I see, you are in favor of implementing actions that allow the independent development of individuals and their families in the face of charitable payments that do not generate the autonomy of the poorest people…

Of course. You must teach people how to fish instead of putting a fish on the table. What is important is education, which is the basis of development and the condition for young people to escape poverty in poorer countries, such as Indonesia or India.  Often, with small loans we can get women to buy a sewing machine or a cart to sell on the street or a bicycle so that men can travel to a job far away from where they live. These little aids, these impulses, allow their lives to change radically, as they create the conditions for them to work for themselves and earn their own bread.  In other cases, for example, we get a job for women—many of whom have young children in their care—so that they can move their family forward. 

His latest solidarity initiative is the Dr. Gabriel Serrano Foundation Dominican Republic. What are its purposes?

Indeed, the Dominican Republic is a place I hold dear to my heart. I am in love with this land and its people since I first arrived there almost forty years ago. I have returned on a regular basis, I have dared to make a handful of great friends that I consider as family and have launched a series of business initiatives that I hope will bring wealth and well-being to many people. I feel so comfortable there that I bought a house and other properties in Bayahibe, a piece of paradise where friendly and smiling people live with whom I am very happy.

My contact with their neighbors has allowed me to see their needs, which are many, and so I thought to help them doing whatever was in my hand, and that is why I have promoted the Dr. Gabriel Serrano Foundation Dominican Republic, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help the most needy, to provide education for children and young people and to improve the living conditions and health of families with a lack of resources. 

We could say that I am the promoter, yes, but I am not alone, because my enthusiasm has infected dozens of prominent Dominicans from all backgrounds who are part of the board of this foundation. With them is also, as it could not be otherwise, the Board of Directors of Fight against Leprosy and the Dominican Institute of Dermatology Dr. Huberto Bogaert, which has joined me unconditionally to collaborate in this noble purpose of helping disadvantaged children and offering them opportunities for educational and personal development. Love, in conclusion, love for Dominicans is the word that summarizes the momentum of this project that makes me immensely happy. 

Is it true that the doctors of the multidisciplinary medical center that has just opened in Bayahibe will offer free consultations one day a week to people without resources in the area?

That’s right, the medical care that the clinic will provide will not only be aimed at foreign tourists of high purchasing power who can pay for the consultations of specialists or the treatments we offer. We will offer the same medical care, the same treatments for everyone, both for those who have enough resources to pay for it and for those who do not earn enough to do so. Free, universal medical attention for those who are in need. 

It is a decision that fills me with pride, because it is an example that I not only saw in my father when he was a doctor in Colombia, but more than forty years ago, in Dr. Huberto Bogaert, founder of the Dominican Institute of Dermatology that bears his name, who also went out to the fields and traveled the roads of the island to care for patients with leprosy and other diseases wherever they lived, since many of them had no means of getting to a hospital or a doctor’s office.

Many years have passed, but unfortunately there are still thousands of people in some areas of the country who do not even have the means to go to a hospital, much less pay for the consultation of a specialist. So, we will go and find them with our ambulance, offer them the medical attention they deserve and fulfill the moral duty that we have set ourselves.  

You talked about the Dominican Institute of Dermatology Dr. Huberto Bogaert, what is your relationship with this medical center?

My relationship is very intense and full of affection, because it was thanks to Dr. Huberto Bogaert—whom I met at a Dermatology Congress—that I go to know the Dominican Republic. He invited me to go and from that moment on I saw everything he was doing at his Institute, and I fell in love with his work and the country. 

The Institute not only carries out an invaluable care work to the more than two thousand patients who are treated every day in their consultations, but it is a reference center of the highest prestige throughout Latin America.  For the admiration I feel for the work they carry out, throughout these years I have contributed technical material, I have shared with their professionals the most advanced procedures and techniques that we were developing in my clinics in Valencia or Madrid, Spain. I have collaborated in the improvement of the training of resident doctors of the Institute and have even provided two scholarships to improve the training of young doctors both from the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America.  

Another of the solidarity actions it carries out has to do with women who are victims of machoist violence and attacked with acid by their partners or former partners in Mexico. 

Indeed. The truth is that society is not aware that these criminal acts affect so many women in Mexico, and after having met some of them I feel intimately committed to their cause and I will continue to help them in whatever way I can. A few weeks ago I was in Mexico City and, with Dr. Isela Mendez, who is one of the most prestigious dermatologists in the country and a woman who is supportive and committed to the cause of these abused women, I personally met five women who were part of the Carmen Sanchez association.  Three of these women had been attacked with acid by their partners or ex-partners, but two others were bestially assaulted by men who had no connection with them. I was moved by their inner strength and willingness to overcome their tragedy even though the attacks they had suffered had forever marked them and changed their lives.

In the clinic of Dr. Mendez we apply the most modern treatments for skin regeneration and the most effective products that we develop in our factory in Valencia, as we have been doing for more than a year, and I felt the priceless satisfaction of seeing that all the efforts we have been making for many years in research and development of new skin products serve to improve people’s lives, restore hope and help them regain their self-esteem. 

I keep thinking about the testimony of two of them, who told me with tears in their eyes that thanks to our help they had looked back in the mirror and that they had removed the black glasses that hid the scars from their faces when they went out into the street. That is why I already feel enormously rewarded. 

It shows that you are man who is happy with what he does…

Yes. The truth is that, as I say in the book in which I tell my life story… At this point in my journey, I feel happy because I have achieved what I set out to do several decades ago: to become a human being whose professional life and vocation are devoted to people’s all-round health and who has the ability to build a home everywhere I go…” 

Awards and Accolades

As a renowned dermatologist, Dr. Gabriel Serrano is the author of over 400 papers in national and international scientific magazines. He was featured at Tycoon Magazine as one of the Most Influential leaders in Beauty Industry 2023 and his first autobiographical book “The Story of My Life” was published in January of the same year. The Doctor also hosts master classes and conducts symposiums worldwide, whilst taking part in the major congresses of the sector. 


Dr. Gabriel Serrano is member of the Illustrious Ramón y Cajal Academy of Health Sciences since 2018 (Complutense University of Madrid), the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, the American Academy of Dermatology – AAD (42 years of continuous membership), the Ibero Latin American College of Dermatology (CILAD, according to its initials in Spanish), the Annual Meeting of Latin American Dermatologists (RADLA, according to its initials in Spanish), and the most important dermatological societies worldwide.

He is also Honorary Professor at University of Bali (Indonesia) and actively collaborates with Dr. Huberto Bogaert Dermatological Institute in the Dominican Republic. This center is a reference in Latin America that was created with the purpose of collaborating in the fight against leprosy and stimulating the study of skin and venereal diseases in the country.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Gabriel Serrano has been actively collaborating with this institute. In fact, he was the precursor of the Cosmetic Department, when dermocosmetic products were barely known to contribute to the treatment of skin with conditions. Currently, Sesderma continues to work on its joint initiatives for the benefit of dermatology in the Dominican Republic.

Moreover, in 2018 he was awarded by the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology for his over 10-year contribution to the Academy and his more than 25 years to the service of dermatology. This same year, he was named one of the “10 Colombians of the Year”, acknowledgement given by the Colombian Embassy to those Colombians resident in Spain who have contributed with their work and professional career to fostering the image of this country.

In 2019, he received the “Dermatologist of the Year” Award from the international publication Les Nouvelles Esthétiques, as well as the “A Tu Salud” award from La Razón for his professional career. In 2021, the newspaper La Razón awarded him a new “A Tu Salud Award” for his research into the development of potential preventive treatments and care for patients affected by Covid-19.

Dr. Gabriel Serrano recently received the Rotary Club of Valencia Award for his service to the community. This award means a lot because helping others is in Sesderma’s DNA. Solidarity, the will to try to improve the lives of those most in the need or the drive to launch initiatives that help people in need are values that Dr. Gabriel Serrano learned from his father, who was a great doctor and an extraordinary person. 

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