Niels Ryberg Finsen Biography
Birthday: December 15, 1860 (Sagittarius)
Born In: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Niels Ryberg Finsen was an Icelandic Faroese-Danish physician and scientist famous for his invention of modern phototherapy. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his contribution to the treatment of skin diseases like lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation. Finsen found that if smallpox patients are exposed to the red light that is formed by excluding the violet end of the spectrum, then the subsequent pockmarks of small pox do not happen. Finsen was aware that the sunlight destroys bacteria and so he came up with a succesful UV treatment for skin tuberculosis. The 21st century has developed newer forms of treatment like drug therapy and radiation but the discovery of phototherapy remains a foundation stone for radiation therapy in bacteriological research. From an early age, Finsen was suffering from Pick’s disease that thickens the connective tissue of the membranes of liver, hear and spleen. Due to his illness, he was confined in a wheelchair and could not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. He tried to thwart the symptoms of his illness in different ways, like partaking a diet poor in salt during the last years of his life. In spite of his poor health, he was a mentally agile man who did not let his sufferings become a hindrance to his scientific research.