Niels Finsen

Niels Finsen

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Niels Ryberg Finsen (1860-1904), the Danish physician who made breakthroughs in the field of phototherapy, the therapeutic use of light. Finsen graduated in medicine in 1891 at the University of Copenhagen. Previous research had shown that light could kill bacteria. Using filtered light, Finsen discovered that intense ultraviolet rays were effective at treating lupus vulgaris, a skin infection caused by the tuberculosis bacteria. In 1896, he founded the Light Institute in Copenhagen. For his work, he received the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1903. In modern medicine, phototherapy is used to treat neonatal jaundice.

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