Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Little Light Relief in Woluwe

On the evening of Thursday 27 October, RSC Belgium was delighted to welcome Prof. David Phillips, the President of the RSC, to give his reknowned lecture "A little light relief". The venue for this lecture was the Lecture theatre Roi Baudouin B in the Rosalind Franklin building on the Universite Catholique Louvain (UCL) campus in Woluwe Saint Lambert, Brussels.

As well as being RSC president, David Phillips is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and former Dean of Sciences at Imperial College London. He also has something of a reputation as a magician, which bacome apparent during his talk.

Prof. Phillips' theme was photomedicine, an area which currently encompasses the effects of light upon the skin, diagnostic uses of light, therapies using non-laser light and the use of lasers.

He described the production of Vitamin D, tanning, how skin ages, and the various types of skin cancers. Photoluminescence is used for immunoassay, the identification of antigens that may be precursors to disease. The technique is used in testing for pregnancy at early stages by seeking the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin, or testing for HIV.

Baby Bobbit
In terms of the therapeutic uses of light, Prof. Phillips described how light is used to treat ailments such as vitiligo, psoriasis, and jaundice.

The effect of photo luminescence to treat jaundice in young babies was demonstrated with aid of Prof. Phillips' long-time demonstration lecture side-kick: Bobbit - the glass baby (pictured above with RSC Belgium section Chairman Prof. Bob Crichton (left) and Prof. David Phillips (right)).

The main future for photomedicine lies in the development of photodynamic therapy (PDT), which is a minimally invasive procedure used in treating a range of infections and forms of cancer. A number of applications of PDT were described by Prof. Phillips.

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