Niels Ryberg Finsen

Niels Ryberg Finsen
Niels Ryberg Finsen

Born December 15, 1860
Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Died September 24, 1904(1904-09-24) (aged 43)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1903)

Niels Ryberg Finsen (December 15, 1860 – September 24, 1904) was a Faroese-Danish physician and scientist of Icelandic descent. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1903 "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."[1]



Niels Finsen was born in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, as the second-oldest of four children. His parents were Hannes Steingrim Finsen, who belonged to an Icelandic family with traditions reaching back to the 10th century, and Johanne Fröman, who was born and raised in Iceland.[2] The family moved to Tórshavn from Iceland in 1858 when his father was given the position of Landfoged of the Faroe Islands. When Niels was four years old his mother died, and his father remarried his mother's cousin Birgitte Kirstine Formann, with whom he had six children. In 1871 his father was made Amtmann of the Faroe Islands.

Finsen got his early education in Tórshavn, but in 1874 was sent to the Danish boarding school Herlufsholm, where his older brother Olaf was also a student. Unlike Olaf, Niels had a difficult stay at Herlufsholm, culminating with a statement from the principal which claimed Niels was "a boy of good heart but low skills and energy".[citation needed] As a consequence of his low grades, he was enrolled in his father's old school, Lærði skólinn, in Reykjavík in 1876. While studying there, his grades improved greatly.

Studies in medicine

In 1882, Finsen moved to Copenhagen to study medicine at the University of Copenhagen, from which he graduated in 1890. Following graduation, he became a prosector of anatomy at the university. After three years, he quit the post to devote himself fully to his scientific studies. In 1898 Finsen was given a professorship and in 1899 he became a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.

The Finsen Institute was founded in 1896, with Finsen serving as its first director. It was later merged into Copenhagen University Hospital and currently serves as a cancer research laboratory that specializes in proteolysis.

Finsen is best known for his theory of phototherapy, in which certain wavelengths of light can have beneficial medical effects. His most notable writings were Finsen Om Lysets Indvirkninger paa Huden ("On the effects of light on the skin"), published in 1893 and Om Anvendelse i Medicinen af koncentrerede kemiske Lysstraaler ("The use of concentrated chemical light rays in medicine"), published in 1896. The papers were rapidly translated and published in both German and French. In his late work he researched the effects of salt, observing the results of a low sodium diet, which he published in 1904 as En Ophobning af Salt i Organismen ("An accumulation of salt in the organism").[2]

Finsen's Nobel Prize, held in the National Museum of Denmark.

Finsen won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1903 for his work on phototherapy. He was the first Scandinavian to win the prize and is the only Faroese Nobel Laureate to date.

Personal life

Finsen married Ingeborg Balslev (1868–1963) on December 29, 1892.

Finsen's health began to fail in the mid-1880's. He had symptoms of heart trouble and suffered from ascites and general weakness. The sickness disabled his body but not his mind, and he continued to work from his wheelchair. He died in Copenhagen on September 24, 1904.


The Finsen Laboratory at Copenhagen University Hospital is named in his honor, and in Tórshavn there is a memorial to Finsen, as well as one of the city's main streets bearing his name. A monument to Finsen designed by the sculptor Rudolph Tegner was installed in Copenhagen in 1909. It shows a standing naked man flanked by two kneeling naked women reaching up to the sky. The sculpture was entitled Mod lyset (Towards the Light), and symbolised Finsen's principal scientific theory that sunlight can have healing properties.[3]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Niels Ryberg Finsen — (* 15. Dezember 1860 in Tórshavn/Färöer; † 24. September 1904 in Kopenhagen) war ein dänischer Arzt, der 1903 den Nobelpreis für Medizin erhielt. Er ist der einzige Färinger, der je einen Nobelpreis erhielt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Niels Ryberg Finsen — Nombre Niels Ryberg Finsen …   Wikipedia Español

  • Niels Ryberg Finsen — Timbre des Îles Féroé représentant Niels Ryberg Finsen Naissance 15 décembre 1860 Tórshavn, Îles Féroé (Danemark) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Niels Ryberg Finsen — ( 1860 † 1904), dansk læge født på Færøerne (af Islandsk slægt). Blev student i Reykjavik i 1882 og tog medicinsk embedseksamen fra Københavns universitet 1890; professor i medicin 1898. Niels Finsen studerede lysets virkning på huden. I 1893… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Niels Ryberg Finsen — (n. Thorshavn, Islas Faroe, 15 de diciembre de 1860 † Copenhague, 24 de septiembre de 1904). Médico danés. En 1882, viaja a Copenhague para estudiar medicina en su universidad, aprobando su examen final en 1890. Posteriormente sería profesor en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Medizinnobelpreis 1903: Niels Ryberg Finsen —   Der Däne erhielt den Nobelpreis für seinen Beitrag zur Behandlung von Krankheiten, insbesondere von Lupus vulgaris, mittels konzentrierter Lichtstrahlen. Damit eröffnete er der Medizin neue Wege.    Biografie   Niels Ryberg Finsen, * Tórshavn… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Niels R. Finsen — Niels Ryberg Finsen Niels Ryberg Finsen (* 15. Dezember 1860 in Tórshavn/Färöer; † 24. September 1904 in Kopenhagen) war ein dänischer Arzt, der 1903 den Nobelpreis für Medizin erhielt. Er ist der einzige Färinger, der je einen Nobelpreis erhiel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Finsen, Niels Ryberg — ▪ Danish physician born Dec. 15, 1860, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, Den. died Sept. 24, 1904, Copenhagen  Danish physician, founder of modern phototherapy (the treatment of disease by the influence of light), who received the 1903 Nobel Prize for… …   Universalium

  • Finsen , Niels Ryberg — (1860–1904) Danish physician Finsen, the son of a leading civil servant, was born at Thorshavn on the Faeroe Islands, which are part of Denmark; he was educated in Reykjavik and at the University of Copenhagen, where he qualified as a physician… …   Scientists

  • Finsen, Niels Ryberg — ► (1860 1904) Médico danés. Fue premio Nobel de Medicina y Fisiología en 1903, por su descubrimiento de la acción de la luz sobre el organismo animal, pralte. de los rayos ultravioleta …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.