Britton Chance, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., pioneered the field of biomedical optics, making important contributions in a number of areas. He helped in the identification of and functioning of enzyme-substrate compounds and made advancements in breast cancer diagnostics, rf electronics, spectroscopy as a noninvasive analytical tool for clinical diagnosis, and other areas.
He had the rare distinction of being the recipient of a National Medal of Science in 1974, a Gold Medal for sailing in the 1952 Olympics, and a Certificate of Merit for his work during World War II. He also was rare in being elected not only to the U.S. National Academy of Science but also to foreign academies such as The Royal Society of London and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Chance died on 16 November 2010 at the age of 97. He was the Eldridge Reeves Johnson Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Professor Emeritus of Physical Chemistry and Radiological Physics at the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Chance obtained two PhDs, one in physical chemistry at Penn in 1940, and one in biology/physiology at Cambridge University in 1942. He became a member of Penn faculty in 1941 when he was appointed Assistant Professor of Biophysics and Physical Biochemistry in the School of Medicine.
A SPIE Fellow, Chance co-edited the SPIE Press book Medical Optical Tomography: Functional Imaging and Monitoring and had been editor of the SPIE Journal of Biomedical Optics since its founding in 1996. He was the recipient of the SPIE President's Award in 2006.
In 2010, SPIE established the Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high-impact biophotonic technologies.