Member Making a Difference: R. Rox Anderson, MD

Members Making a Difference

Dermatologist R. Rox Anderson, MD, builds a career around helping children.

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Boston dermatologist R. Rox Anderson, MD, has made a career out of helping children in need. He’s made it his mission to serve children in his roles as a teacher, physician, and scientist, whether in the U.S. or in Vietnam. Four years ago, he joined with Harvard residents and Vietnam war survivors Than Nga Tran, MD, PhD, and Thuy Phung, MD, PhD, as well as a number of doctors stateside and in that country, to set up a clinic for children with vascular anomalies in Ho Chi Minh City. Dr. Anderson and his colleagues worked to gather equipment and resources for the clinic, including a pulsed dye laser, fractional CO2 and alexandrite lasers, and training for local dermatologists.

“It’s a pleasure to help people, particularly children, and especially in places where they don’t have a lot of resources. I think it’s amazing what you can do when you get the right group of people together.”

  • Every winter, Dr. Anderson travels back to Vietnam with Drs. Than and Phung, and the group spends a week or two treating patients and training local physicians and medical personnel.
  • “Before they had lasers, kids that had hemangiomas were treated with radioactive phosphorus, a technique that was being investigated in France during the 1950s,” Dr. Anderson said. “Vietnamese physicians learned this from the French then the war happened and they were cut off.” As a result, he said, use of radioactive P-32 to treat hemangiomas continued for decades, leading to scarring, depigmentation, and eventually squamous cell carcinoma. “Our first priority was to stop the use of this as a treatment, then to find out how to solve the problems this has caused.”
  • In addition to his work in Vietnam, Dr. Anderson has assembled a group of physicians and scientists from MIT to improve treatments for vitiligo. The group seeks solutions that can work within the economic confines of a developing nation.
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