Seeing The Light
Growing up in Iceland just below the Arctic Circle, Niels Finsen was acutely aware of the good effects of sunlight. A sickly child, he noticed that increased exposure to sun rays made him feel better. This would lead to his lifelong work in phototherapy. Finsen, who was born on this date in 1860, received his medical degree from the University of Copenhagen and began his research on the therapeutic effects of light on insects, salamanders, tadpoles and amphibian embryos. After experimenting with trying to heal smallpox lesions, he began treating lupus vulgaris, a skin disease, with ultraviolet light. His success resulted in his winning the 1903 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Finsen, who suffered from Pick's disease, a chronic, progressive condition that affects the liver and the lining around the heart, was too ill to attend the ceremonies. He died a year later, in 1904.
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