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Fellows Directory

David Dolphin

David Dolphin

Professor David Dolphin OC FRS


Elected: 2002


David Dolphin is a Canadian biochemist and expert in porphyrins, carbon-based ring structures that include naturally occurring molecules such as haem — a component of the pigment in red blood cells — and vitamin B12. He subsequently revealed important details about the porphyrin-dependent reactions during photosynthesis in plants and the transport of oxygen in humans.

He was the key creator of verteporfin, or Visudyne, a porphyrin-based medication used in conjunction with laser eye therapy to remove abnormal blood vessels associated with conditions such as wet macular degeneration. Visudyne was the world’s most widely used ophthalmic drug and has saved the vision of more than a million people.

David was Chief Executive Officer of the BC Innovation Council. In 2005, he was awarded the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work on age-related macular degeneration. As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2006, David was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Other
    • Other interests
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, organic
  • Health and human sciences
    • Medicine, clinical studies


Organic chemistry, Biochemistry, Medicinal chemistry, Drug Discovery, Macular degeneration, Visudyne, Porphyrins,  Tetrapyrrolic macrocycles

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