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Optical Diagnostic Equipment

Tuan Vo-Dinh was born in Vietnam; like many famous inventors, he built his own toys as a boy. At the age of 17, he moved to Switzerland, where he earned a B.S. in Physics (1971) and a Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry (1975). He immigrated to the U.S. in 1975; since that time Vo-Dinh has invented a number of life-saving devices which detect and diagnose diseases, defects and toxins by optical scanning (using lasers and fiberoptics) rather than biopsy (the removal of bodily tissue for analysis).

Vo-Dinh's first patents (#4,674,878 and #4,680,165, granted in 1987) were for a small, easy-to-make badge that, when worn on a worker's shirt, recorded the extent and type of any exposure to toxic chemicals. At the end of the workday, an optical scanner would read the badge and give warning of any potential danger. For the medical field, Vo-Dinh has invented similar detection systems for damaged DNA, diabetes, and cancer. All of Vo-Dinh's systems rely on the synchronous luminescence (SL) methodology that he made practicable: because data is recorded, displayed and read optically, one's health can be monitored without medical procedure.

Vo-Dinh has earned 10 patents for his work; his technology has been licensed by numerous medical and environmental companies; his techniques are used by research organizations such as the National Cancer Institute and at hospitals throughout the United States.

Vo-Dinh himself continues to invent. His more recent work includes an optical disc storage system ("SERODS") for use in supercomputer memory, medical databases, and NASA satellites (1992) and an enormously successful optical method of cancer detection (1994). He is Corporate Fellow and Group Leader at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee---where he was named Inventor of the Year in 1992.

[Sept. 1996]

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