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Niels Ryberg Finsen

1860-1904, Danish physician. As a young man, Finsen already suffered from a serious heart condition, which meant that he had to give up any thought of practising after qualifying in 1890.

He was appointed assistant lecturer in anatomy at Copenhagen University, where he started some highly successful research into the effect of light on certain skin diseases.

In 1893 he attracted attention in Denmark with a dissertation on red light and its beneficial effect on smallpox.

Two years later, Finsen made the great breakthrough that established his international reputation by introducing the revolutionary carbon arc treatment (Finsen's Therapy) of lupus (lupus vulgaris). The following year he established a light institute, subsequently The Finsen Institute, in Copenhagen. In 1898 he became a titular professor.

Finsen was the first Danish doctor to receive the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine, in 1903, for his unique research into treatment with ultraviolet rays.

Johannes Brix, Gyldendal Leksikon

other great danes

The lives and achievements of all these Great Danes and many more are outlined in biographies of varying lengths on these pages. Read more about The Great Danes