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Profile: Prolific Entrepreneur Rox Anderson is Responsible for Most Modern-Day Dermatologic Inventions

In the last 15 years or so, laser technology has been used to eliminate unwanted hair, birthmarks, burns, or to reduce wrinkles and skin deformities that can be socially crippling. Laser resurfacing is now a major industry, and used for both cosmetic purposes — like getting rid of acne scars and blemishes — to curing skin abnormalities like port wine stains and Nevus of Ota, a condition where melanin is overproduced in the eyes. This relatively young technology, which has become commonplace in skincare centers and dermatology clinics across the country and some parts of the world, was pioneered by one guy: Massachusetts General Hospital for Children dermatologist, Rox Anderson, MD.

Anderson has been granted over 60 patents and has authored more than 250 books and papers. Called a modern-day Benjamin Franklin, Anderson’s journey to becoming a dermatologist didn’t follow the traditional trajectory. Before attending Harvard Medical School, Anderson floated between Boston and Vermont — working odd jobs and teaching school. In the early 1970s, he became a lab technician at Mass. General Hospital, where he was first exposed to the concept of how ultraviolet light can be used to treat certain skin conditions.

“I’m not an entrepreneur,” Anderson told The Boston Globe. “Just a researcher who likes to solve problems.” Although most of Anderson’s light therapy programs are geared towards curing skin deformations found on children. He’s also the mastermind behind Follica, a biomedical company developing a product to increase hair growth and stop alopecia; Olivo Labs, which has produced a “second skin” technology that heals, protects, and tightens existing skin; and Seven Oaks, a medical instrument manufacturer.  

Despite his astounding list of achievements, his colleagues describe him as “the most modest person I’ve ever met” and a general good-doer. He even refers to himself as a “hider”.


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