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Dr. Kessel receives lifetime achievement award for work in Photodynamic Therapy

June 29, 2017

David Kessel, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Photodynamic Therapy Basic Research from the International Photodynamic Association.

A member of the School of Medicine faculty since 1974, Dr. Kessel received the award June 11 during the association’s 16th World Congress in Coimbra, Portugal.

The association said that Dr. Kessel “has been a pioneering leader in the field of basic PDT research for more than 40 years.”

Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, is a combination therapy involving light-activated photosensitizers to diagnose and treat cancers and pre-cancers, macular degeneration and multidrug-resistant biofilm infections involving bacteria, viruses and fungi.

“This is perhaps the best type of ‘peer review,’ with awards decided by a committee quite familiar with progress in the field,” said Dr. Kessel, who has been a member of the association since its formation in 1986. “The major problem was getting a large bit of cut glass back from Portugal without exciting the suspicions of various airport authorities.”

His most significant research achievements include the development and characterization of photosensitizers, elucidating cellular mechanisms of PDT response with crucial contributions in the understanding of apoptosis induction and the role of autophagy in PDT-treated cells. His research has involved PDT for the eradication of malignant cell types without damaging nearby healthy tissue.

Dr. Kessel is also a scientific member of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at the Barabara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. His research relating to photosensitization and drug resistance has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. He is the author of more than 350 papers and has edited seven books. Aside from his extensive research, Dr. Kessel has made enormous contributions to the advancement of the PDT field as past IPA President, conference organizer, keynote speaker, journal editor, reviewer, mentor and author of key review articles.

In 2012, Dr. Kessel received the American Society for Photobiology’s Lifetime Achievement Award for significantly advancing research areas encompassed by that organization.

Dr. Kessel also received the 2012 Lawrence M. Weiner Award from the School of Medicine Alumni Association, which honors the outstanding contributions of non-alumni to the School of Medicine through the exceptional performance of their teaching, research or administrative duties. He received the Research Excellence Award from the School of Medicine in 1998, the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award from WSU in 2000 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2008.

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