10 May 2023

Winner of the LEO Foundation Award in Region Americas 2023 is Assistant Professor William Damsky at Yale School of Medicine in the US, who is keen to put incompletely understood cutaneous inflammatory disorders on the map of treatable diseases.

Assistant Professor William Damsky, MD, PhD, from Yale School of Medicine at Yale University, USA, wins this year’s LEO Foundation Award in Region Americas. The award – worth USD 100,000 – is awarded to William Damsky for his noteworthy contributions to the understanding of inflammatory skin diseases, as he particularly looks to expand our presently incomplete understanding of the cutaneous diseases Sarcoidosis and Granuloma Annulare (GA).

The LEO Foundation Award aims to provide a boost to young talents and strengthen the much-needed pipeline of excellent dermatology researchers. With this year’s award in Region Americas going to William Damsky, the LEO Foundation is confident that the award has found a worthy recipient.

A future focused on expanding the our understanding of inflammatory skin diseases

Whilst William Damsky has an impressive track record as a medical dermatologist, dermatopathologist, and immunologist, spending some time developing a novel cancer immunotherapy at Yale, it is ultimately cutaneous inflammatory disorders that are the focus of his future research.  

The diseases Sarcoidosis and Granuloma Annulare (GA) are currently incompletely understood inflammatory disorders with no FDA approved therapies. This is something that William Damsky hopes to change, whilst also producing new fundamental insights into the physiology of the skin. He sees the LEO Foundation Award as an important way to accelerate his quest towards fundamental discoveries:

“Our group is focused on better understanding inflammatory granulomatous disorders, including Sarcoidosis, a potentially devastating disease that predominantly affects black individuals and individuals of lower socioeconomic standing. There has been very little therapeutic progress in Sarcoidosis and there are no FDA approved therapies for cutaneous Sarcoidosis. Support from the LEO Foundation will accelerate our ability to make fundamental immunological discoveries in Sarcoidosis that we hope will herald a new generation of molecularly targeted, safe, and effective therapies in this disease.”

William Damsky

Chief Scientific Officer at the LEO Foundation, Anne-Marie Engel, is excited to be supporting William Damsky’s dermatological research:

“The research of William Damsky is of tremendous value in developing a new understanding of what leads to skin diseases such as Sarcoidosis and Granuloma Annulare. A deeper understanding of pathophysiology of these diseases has an important potential to pave the way for the development of new treatments in the future.”

Anne-Marie Engel

William Damsky

Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine, USA


Assistant Professor, Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Assistant Professor, Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Research Fellow, Immunobiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Fellow, Dermatopathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Instructor, Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Chief Resident, Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA


Resident, Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA

In 2023, all three LEO Foundation Award winners were presented at an award ceremony on stage on 10 May at the International Societies for Investigative Dermatology (ISID, Japan). Read the full story here, and articles about the other award winners here and here.

About the LEO Foundation Award

The LEO Foundation Award – worth USD 100,000 – recognizes outstanding young researchers and scientists from around the world whose work represents an extraordinary contribution to skin research and has the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments for skin diseases.  

The award is given three times annually, one in each of the three regions: the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. It is granted in open competition with all award applications being evaluated by an independent and international global review panel. The panel members are appointed annually by their respective dermatology societies in the three regions. 

About the LEO Foundation

The LEO Foundation is one of Denmark’s largest commercial foundations and an engaged majority owner of the pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma. The Foundation’s main objective is to ensure the company’s long-term development and success.  

Besides the ownership, the LEO Foundation provides philanthropic grants with the aim to support the best international research in skin diseases and make Denmark a global beacon for skin research. The Foundation has given more than EUR 130 million in grants and awards – in Denmark and all over the world.