Dean of Medicine Honoured with the Maria Duran Medal 2020

Professor Ncoza Dlova, the Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at UKZN, is the recipient of the Maria Duran Medal for 2020.

This prestigious international award is bestowed on women leaders in dermatology, particularly those who have made significant contributions to the treatment of dermatologic conditions affecting women and children. It honours the memory of Maria M Duran, MD, former Secretary-General and Executive Vice-President of the International Society of Dermatology.

In 2019, Dlova and colleagues identified a gene that is a major cause of permanent hair loss amongst women of African descent. She collaborated with scientists in the United States and Israel to identify the root cause of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA), one of the most common causes of scarring alopecia amongst African women. She is a strong advocate for natural skin and hair and has conducted extensive research on the abuse of skin lighteners amongst Africans and Indians in South Africa. She is the first African woman to head the School of Clinical Medicine and is one of the first black female dermatologists in South Africa. Her research focuses on ethnic skin and hair, pigmentation disorders, as well as HIV and skin. She has published in more than 86 peer-reviewed scientific publications, written three books on dermatology and contributed more than 10 chapters in major dermatology textbooks.

She has been invited as a guest speaker in more than 30 countries and given guest lectures at Harvard and institutions in Brussels, Africa and other countries.

Dlova has been described as the epitome of a dynamic leader and an inspirational role model by her peers and staff. Among the many awards to her name is being named Best Dean Leader in the College of Health Sciences in 2019. She displays compassion and resilience and has a huge heart for community services. She has done extensive work in fighting discrimination and stigmatisation of people with albinism. Dlova is also actively involved in primary health care and consumer education on common skin conditions, as well as initiating hair loss support groups and anti-skin bleaching campaigns. She is passionate about the mentorship of young leaders in dermatology and other specialities, as well as matters surrounding transformation, diversity and inclusion in the academic fraternity.

Dr Vangee Handog, President of the International Society of Dermatology, described Dlova as a distinguished and well-respected figure in global dermatology, a selfless individual, true leader and a dear friend who is a most deserving recipient of the Maria Duran Medal.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied