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Nobel Prize Cash and Philantrophy

Niels Ryberg Finsen M.D.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1903

Doctor. Founder of phototherapy in dermatology. Contributed to treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation. Researched effects of salt. Despite having Niemann-Pick disease, strong willed, persevering.

Early education in Denmark - Rector: "Niels is a very nice boy, but his gifts are small and he is quite devoid of energy." This may have been due to fagging for older pupils. Moved to school in Iceland; succeeded despite initially not knowing language.

Nobel Prize Cash and Philanthropy

The Nobel Prize award ceremony was held in Stockholm on December 10, 1903. Finsen, having been chronically unwell was in a wheel chair at home. Innumerable people he knew were congratulating him on being awarded the Nobel Prize. At that time, Finsen announced that he would donate 50,000 crowns of the Prize money to the Finsen Institute. He would also donate 60,000 crowns to a sanatorium for heart and liver diseases which too he had founded.

Finsen's donations immediately lead to his two main donors also donating 50,000 crowns to the Finsen Institute.

Therefore, despite Finsen's poor health, the Prize helped spread Finsen's ideas and it helped his Finsen Institute.

Photo: nobelprize.org

Name:Niels Ryberg Finsen
Birth: 15 December 1860, Thorshavn, Faroe Islands (Denmark)
Death: 24 September 1904, Copenhagen, Denmark
Affiliation at the time of the award: Finsen Medical Light Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
Prize motivation "in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation, whereby he has opened a new avenue for medical science"
Field: Dermatology, radiology
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