UJ’s Prof Heidi Abrahamse wins 2019 IPA Humanitarian Award

​At the 17th International Photodynamic Association (IPA) World Congress in Boston, Massachusetts, held from June 28-July 4, Professor Heidi Abrahamse of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), was named the 2019 recipient of the IPA Humanitarian Award.

Director of the Laser Research Centre at UJ’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Abrahamse is a globally recognised researcher in the fields of Photobiology and Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with expertise in PDT oncology, wound healing and adult stem cell research. She is the Co-editor-in-chief of the international journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. In September 2015, the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) awarded a research chair for Laser Applications in Health to Prof Abrahamse. The Centre is located within the UJ Faculty of Health Sciences.

Prof Abrahamse has been recognised for her research and efforts aimed at improving quality of life in Africa. She has also been lauded for her contributions in PDT that have led the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to identify and support Biophotonics in Health as a major area of focus and investment through a newly established photonics initiative of South African (PISA) to prevent and treat disease.

IPA World Congress

The IPA World Congress is held every two years, and is the leading PDT meetings bringing together members of the global photodynamic community to advance scientific and clinical research relating to photodiagnosis and photodynamic therapies. The 2021 IPA World Congress will be hosted in Moscow, Russia and the 2023 IPA World Congress will be held in Shanghai, China.

About Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a combination therapy involving light activated photosensitizers to diagnose and treat various types and stages of cancers and pre-cancers, macular degeneration and multidrug-resistant infections involving bacteria, viruses and fungi. First developed in the 1980s, PDT has demonstrated superior patient outcomes with considerable cost savings. Over the past 30 years, millions of patients globally have been successfully treated with PDT.

About the UJ Laser Research Centre

The Health Sciences based Laser Research Centre, is leading efforts to investigate the field of phototherapy with specific emphasis on Low Intensity Laser Irradiation (LILI) or photobiomodulation (PBM), Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), Phyto-Photodynamic Therapy (P-PDT) and Stem Cell Therapy. While this treatment modality is very well established in many countries, laser therapy is utilised by very few disciplines and the full spectrum of uses is yet to be realised in South Africa. The therapeutic value of PBM for application in wound healing and stem cell therapy (regenerative medicine) is investigated by establishing biochemical responses and its effects on the metabolic events in cell culture and artificial skin constructs.

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