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Absent from Photonics West -- but present for babies in Vietnam

Rox Anderson, who for many years has partnered with Jim Fujimoto of MIT as Co-Chair of the Biomedical Optics Symposium at SPIE Photonics West, won’t be in San Francisco for the event later this month.

Instead, this year Rox will be in Vietnam, putting to good use his teaching skills as well as laser medicine technology developed with the contributions of SPIE members and others.

Working as the Vascular Anomalies Center, Rox and other volunteers have opened a free clinic in Vietnam. There, babies receive laser treatments for treatment of vascular birth defects -- disfiguring pigmented lesions.

By eliminating this source of physical dysfunction, social stigma, and isolation, the lives of these children have been dramatically changed. The center has treated more than 500 children since 2009.

In past years Rox has been able to schedule his job at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine and his work at the VAC so that he can also attend Photonics West. But this year, he is training a Vietnamese physician who will take over full-time next summer to run the clinic.

“It has been quite an effort,” Rox said. “U.S. and European laser companies have donated a lot of equipment, doctors and nurses have volunteered their time, and we have raised enough support that the operation will become self-sustaining in 2011.”

The VAC is a collaborative effort of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Wellman Center for Photomedicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA: and  Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA. Learn more at the center’s website: http://vietnamvac.org.

And hear more about laser applications in medicine from Rox in a video interview:






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