10 May 2023

This year’s winner of the LEO Foundation Award in Region EMEA is Associate Professor Lavinia Paternoster from the University of Bristol in the UK, who takes on not only our understanding of the genetics behind eczema, but also the challenging question of ethnic diversity in genetic research.

It is Associate Professor Lavinia Paternoster from the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, UK, who receives the LEO Foundation Award 2023 in Region EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa). Lavinia receives the award – worth USD 100,000 – for her research pushing the boundaries of our knowledge on the genetic landscape of skin diseases. Lavinia Paternoster’s work has led to significant breakthroughs in the understanding of atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and other complex human disorders.

The LEO Foundation Award aims to advance the understanding of skin diseases by supporting young talents and by strengthening the pipeline of excellent dermatology researchers. With Lavinia’s research helping to shape the developing field of genetic epidemiology, she is a well-deserved receiver of the award, and a truly excellent role-model for junior researchers in skin science.

Chief Scientific Officer, Anne-Marie Engel, is delighted to be able to support Lavina’s research:

“Lavinia Paternoster’s research into the genetic landscape of skin diseases is of fundamental importance to how we understand and approach skin diseases. At the LEO Foundation we are very proud to be able to support her ongoing efforts to develop the field of genetic epidemiology.”

Anne-Marie Engel

Lavinia Paternoster is very proud to receive the LEO Foundation Award:

“My work in eczema genetics is built upon an incredible set of collaborators (the EAGLE eczema consortium, BIOMAP, and many others) and colleagues who form a remarkably generous and stimulating research environment. I am so proud to be able to share with them that the dedication and impact of our work has been recognised with such a prestigious award. The award will also enable us to expand our research in important new directions, particularly in investigating multi-ancestry genetic influences of skin disease.”

Lavinia Paternoster

Seeking ethnic diversity in genetic research

Whilst Lavinia has already led three international Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) of atopic dermatitis, identifying 96 genetic loci associated with the disease, Lavinia now intends to address under-studied groups in her continuing research. She therefore takes up the challenge of ethnic diversity in genetic skin research, hoping to discover drug targets that are relevant and valuable for everyone.

Lavinia Paternoster

Associate Professor, University of Bristol, UK


Associate Professor, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC IEU), University of Bristol, UK


Senior Lecturer, MRC IEU, University of Bristol, UK


Senior Research Fellow, MRC IEU, University of Bristol, UK


Research Fellow, MRC IEU, University of Bristol, UK


Research Associate, School of Social & Community Medicine, University of Bristol, UK

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.