The American Society for Photobiology (ASP) has an interesting attendee profile. Gathering on July 7 at the Chicago Downtown Marriott will be two main groups of research scientists: those who study the effects of light on living things, and those who study medical aspects of light effects and the uses of light in therapy, ranging from sunburn and skin cancer to photo immunology, laser micro surgery and the treatment of jaundiced infants with light.

ASP President Woodland "Woody" Hastings, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, who will deliver the Presidential address on light emission by living organisms (bioluminescence), says, "Basic research in biology has been shown time and time again to lead to important advances in medicine, and meetings such as the ASP are where meaningful exchanges of scientific information leading to such advances take place. We are expecting an impressive gathering of the nation's leaders in photobiology and expect important new research findings to be presented."

Adds Hastings, "For example, the green fluorescent protein (GFP), probably the most widely used reporter of gene expression in medical research, was first discovered as a light emitter in a bioluminescent jellyfish, but at the time was not considered to be of particular interest or importance. Luciferases from bacteria and fireflies, originally investigated mostly for the pleasure of discovering how organisms convert chemical energy into light, are now used to identify and track cancerous cells, for example. Basic research does pay off!"

Daniel Yarosh, Ph.D, president of Applied Genetics Inc. Dermatics (AGI), Freeport, NY, whose recent skin cancer prevention drug discovery has received a great deal of media attention within the last few months, has been tapped to deliver the keynote address, "Day for Night: The Story of Topical DNA Repair Enzymes," at the opening session, Saturday evening, July 7. Dr. Yarosh will provide details of the topically applied drug (T4N5 Liposome Lotion, tradename Dimericine)(R), which uses liposomes to deliver DNA repair enzymes into the cells of the skin to reverse the DNA damage caused by sunlight that leads to skin cancer. The topical application of T4N5 Liposomes to xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients, who have an elevated incidence of all forms of skin cancer, reduced the rate of new skin cancers by 30 percent and cut the incidence pre-malignant lesions by 68 percent. AGI Dermatics is currently seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to market the new drug.

Henry W. Lim, MD, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, and the American Society of Photobiology's President-elect, will deliver a special lecture on photodermatology, Wednesday afternoon, July 11. He will highlight the history of the use of light for human health, review the use of light in therapy, and discuss protection from solar UV.

Moderating a Tuesday, July 10 morning symposium on the "Pros and Cons of Herbal Remedies: Are Herbal Medications Effective and are the Safe?" is Joan Roberts, Ph.D, Professor of Biology at Fordham University, NY. Herbs and plant-derived tonics have been used for thousands of years to maintain health and prevent disease. Her panelists will discuss which of the most common over-the-counter remedies really work (e.g. melatonin, St. John's Wort, flavonoids, ginkgo biloba), which can be harmful (e.g. dong quai ephedra), and why.

To learn more, visit the American Society for Photobiology website.