A short conversation with David Weston (Chemistry teacher 1955-1964) recently, brought up the name David Dolphin (1951-1958).

David was forever linked in my mind with the name of Douglas Gough since both of them had been the “Light Magicians” on a couple of Albert Calland’s marvellous School Play Productions during my own time at H.D.S. I believe that memory serves me right when I say that they had both played Fives, though I may be wrong. Certainly Douglas did!

But that chance conversation where I believed that D.D. had been a University Vice-Chancellor in Canada was to prove a little wrong. Whilst that high office had eluded him, he had proved to be a high flyer in his chosen sphere with offices in the British Columbia Innovation Council, Genome British Columbia and elsewhere after periods of office in no less an institution than Harvard University before going on to the University of B.C..

One of David’s achievements was the development of “Visudyne” – a drug which can be used in the treatment of certain types of age related macular degeneration.

All this activity brought its reward in election as a Fellow of the Royal Society and the award of the Order of Canada in 2006. His school chum Douglas is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for achievements in astrophysics, both at Cambridge and for work at NASA. Working the lights for school plays may have helped in some way, for Howard Cattle (who followed them at H.D.S. at a distance of a year or two) also worked the rheostats for Albert Calland and became one of our most noted

meteorologists, though now he has dived even deeper and is working in oceanography! Matters celestial, temporal and marine from boys who attended the worst school in Britain – little do those commentators know! (WW – Review Volume 4 No 2 May 2011

Dr David Dolphin

Dr David Dolphin


Dr David Dolphin, as the Vice-President of Technology Development at Quadra Logic Technologies, was instrumental in the discovery, development, and commercialization of Visudyne, and the establishment of one of Canada’s most renowned university spin-off companies, QLT Inc. Visudyne has already saved the vision of hundreds of thousands of people afflicted with “wet” age-related macular degeneration. Visudyne is the most successful ophthalmic product ever registered; it has been approved in more than 70 countries; more than 600,000 patients have been treated; and more than $3,000,000,000 of the drug has been sold.

Dr Dolphin holds more than 264 patents (43 of them issued in the USA) and has been internationally recognized for his industrial research. In 2002 David (along with Julia Levy) was awarded the Prix Galien. In 2004 he was designated a Hero of Chemistry, the highest award the American Chemical Society gives to an industrial chemist.

Dolphin obtained his Ph.D at the University of Nottingham in 1965 and then moved to Harvard University where he spent a year as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Nobel Laureate Robert Burns Woodward. He then joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at Harvard where he stayed for a decade before moving to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1974. He is an Emeritus University Killam Professor and the QLT/NSERC Industrial Research Professor in Photodynamic Technologies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Before joining QLT, David was the Acting Dean of Science at UBC and he was acting V.P. of Research at UBC in 1999-2000 and in 2005.

He is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of porphyrin chemistry and biochemistry and has been instrumental in the development of drugs for photodynamic therapy. He is the author and editor of eighteen books on spectroscopy, chemistry, and biochemistry and has published over 400 research papers.

Richard B Silverman was his first Ph.D student and has proved himself to be one of the leading biochemists in the world, and Andrew D Hamilton, another of David’s graduate students, is now the Provost at Yale. Dr Dolphin is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was elected a Guggenheim Fellow in 1980 and awarded a D.Sc. from his alma mater of Nottingham University in 1982.

He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2001. He received the Friesen Rygiel Prize in 2002 and the same year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (London).

In the spring of 2006 David was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada which is the country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement and service.