SA dermatologist awarded L’Oréal research grant

Dr Willem Visser wins the L’Oréal African Hair & Skin research grantDr Willem Visser, Head of Dermatology, Stellenbosch University has been awarded the L’Oréal African Hair & Skin research grant for his research on Acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN). The award is open to all dermatologists and African PhD students specialising in the science of skin and hair.

AKN is a skin and hair condition that predominantly affects males with afro-textured hair and patients of African or mixed descent. AKN affects the nape of the neck and produces pustules, resulting in permanent hair loss and large areas of scarring. AKN may also affect areas beyond the nape of the neck.

A study with various objectives

Dr Visser’s study aims to investigate the earliest manifestations of its spread. The objective of the descriptive study is to describe the dermatoscopic and histopathological features of sub-clinical or early AKN.

For patients or men in the community who are concerned about this disorder, the study aims to empower dermatologists to identify early markers of disease. For patients who are already diagnosed with AKN and in the care of a dermatologist, this study will aim to provide clinical tools to assess further spread of the disease. According to Dr Visser, if this disease is diagnosed early on, treatment may be initiated sooner and the distress associated with this disorder may be significantly lessened.

Promoting R&D in Africa

The research grant aims to promote clinical and basic research on ethnic skin and hair physiology conducted by African scientists in Africa. It supports a one-year research project in sub-Saharan Africa and the winner receives an amount of €10 000.

‘L’Oreal’s Research & Innovation team is passionate about information sharing and ongoing research when it comes to hair and skin. Our recently inaugurated Research & Innovation Centre in Johannesburg will collaborate with the African scientific ecosystem, universities, dermatologists, natural biodiversity centres as well as hairdressers,’ explains Dr Michele Verschoore, Medical director, L’Oreal Research & Innovation.

Focus areas of the research projects considered for the grant include:  

The jury adjudicating the projects is made up of seven African and two international experts with the necessary expertise in their respective areas. Jury member and renowned dermatologist, Professor Ncoza Dlova from the University of KwaZulu-Natal described Dr Visser’s research as ‘relevant, practical, important and innovative’. To learn more about the L'Oréal African Hair & Skin Research Grant visit

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