Guest Editorial

Photomedicine and Laser Surgery Volume 33, Number 6, 2015 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Pp. 299–300 DOI: 10.1089/pho.2015.9846

The International Year of Light: Celebrate and Educate Juanita J. Anders, PhD


n November 6, 2013, the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) resolution was submitted to the United Nations Second Committee by the nation of Mexico.1 Delegates from Mexico and New Zealand supported this resolution. The resolution was adopted with co-sponsorship from 35 countries. On December 20, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the IYL 2015.2 The IYL 2015 is a global initiative highlighting the importance of light and optical technologies for the lives and futures of all people. The opening ceremony of the IYL 2015 was held at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris on January 19 and 20, 2015. More than 1000 participants attended the event. I had the honor of representing the American Society of Lasers for Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) at the opening ceremony. The speakers and attendees included international diplomats and decision makers, five Nobel laureates, and science and industry leaders from around the world. The opening ceremony included keynote lectures and thematic sessions covering topics on the basic science of light and optics, innovative lighting solutions, light pollution, emerging trends in photonics, the Einstein Centenary, the role of light-based technologies to solve global challenges, science policy, and light in art and culture. Dr. John Dudley, Steering Committee Chair, International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, spoke at the opening ceremony and emphasized that although it is appropriate to celebrate all the amazing advances that have been made involving light and light-based technologies, there is much work to be done during 2015 and beyond to educate and raise global awareness of the use of light in all facets of our lives. Many light and energy based societies, including ASLMS, have accepted this challenge, and are sponsors of the ILY 2015. On the individual level, what opportunities are there for participating in the IYL 2015 and to help educate and promote awareness of the wonders of light? A great place to start is with a visit to the IYL2015 web site (http:// In addition to the web site containing information about the IYL, it has an events cal-

endar that lists light-based activities that will occur throughout 2015 at the regional, national, and international levels. There are also searchable links such as ‘‘Why Light Matters,’’ ‘‘Learn about Light,’’ and ‘‘Cosmic Light.’’ These links provide information on the basics of light on our planet and in the universe and discuss how light has transformed communications, medicine, and culture. For individuals who want to actively participate in celebrating the IYL2015, there is a link entitled ‘‘Hands on Involvement.’’ This link provides educational materials such as presentations and videos that can be used to educate students of all ages on the wonders of light. Also, under the link entitled ‘‘About the Year of Light,’’ there is a resource link that includes a fact sheet, IYL 2015 logos, promotional posters, postcards, and banners that can be downloaded and used for educational and nonprofit activities. Finally, there is also an IYL2015 blog that people can read and contribute to.4 In the spirit of IYL 2015 celebration and education, I will share two amazing light-based research publications that have recently been published. The first is an open access publication.5 According to quantum mechanics, light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Scientists have been trying to observe this dual nature of light for years. Previously, scientists have captured images of light as a wave or particle, but not at the same time. In this article, which represents a collaboration between the Laboratory for Ultrafast Microscopy and Electron Scattering of the E´cole Polytechnique Fe´de´rale de Lausanne, the Department of Physics of Trinity College (US), and the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the authors present for the first time incredible images depicting both behaviors of light simultaneously. The second article I bring to your attention was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.6 The authors demonstrate that melanopsin (opsin4; OPN4), a non-image-forming opsin, has a physiological role in relaxation of blood vessels. OPN4 is a classic G proteincoupled receptor. The vasorelaxation is wavelength specific (*430–460 nm). The authors also reported that ‘‘this photorelaxation does not involve endothelial-, nitric oxide-, carbon monoxide-, or cytochrome p450-derived vasoactive

Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics, Edward He´bert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. The opinions and assertions contained herein are solely those of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of Defense or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.



prostanoid signaling but is associated with vascular hyperpolarization, as shown by intracellular membrane potential measurements.’’ The characterization of this endogenous light-activated molecular switch is not only important for the development of light-based therapies for vascular diseases but also has significance for understanding mechanisms involved in photobiomodulation. These finding involve a classic G protein-coupled receptor. In 2008, my collaborators and I published an article in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics7 in which we reported that P2Y receptors, which are also endogenous receptors belonging to the G-protein-coupled superfamily, were involved in light-mediated neurite outgrowth. In this study, we used 810 nm wavelength light and hypothesized that neurite outgrowth was caused by increases in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) acting as a signaling molecule through the P2Y receptors. These findings suggest that G-proteincoupled membrane receptors, which are ubiquitous and represent the largest superfamily of proteins in the body, may play a critical role in the response of cells to light. The IYL 2015 is a time for celebrating light. It is also a time to celebrate the role of light in medicine. On a personal note, I am celebrating the pre-clinical and clinical experiments that have resulted in the significant increase in interest in photobiomodualtion. I will continue to celebrate, educate, and investigate the immense potential of this field. I hope the readers will find many ways to celebrate and educate students and colleagues on the wonders of light in general and on the specific topic of light that is their particular area of expertise and passion. References

1. European Physical Society. The United Nations Proclaims an International Year of Light in 2015, posted 2013.





5. 6. 7.

Available at: IYL2015-proclamation.pdf (Last accessed March 19, 2015). United Nations General Assembly. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 20 December 2013: International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, 2015, posted 2014. Available at: Resources/Resolution/Resolution_EN.pdf (Last accessed March 19, 2015). United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, 2015, posted 2015. Available at: http://www (Last accessed March 19, 2015). United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, Blog, 2015, posted 2015. Available at: http:// (Last accessed March 19, 2015). Piazza L, Lummen TTA, Quin˜onez E, et al. Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. Nat Commun 2015;6:6407. Sikka G, Hussman GP, Pandey D, et. al. Melanopsin mediates light-dependent relaxation in blood vessels. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2014;11:17977–17982. Anders JJ, Romanczyk TB, Ilev IK, et al. Light supports neurite outgrowth of human neural progenitor cells in vitro: the role of P2Y receptors. IEEE J Selected Topics Quantum Electronics 2008;14:118–125.

Address correspondence to: Juanita J. Anders Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics Edward He´bert School of Medicine Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences 4301 Jones Bridge Road Bethesda, MD 20854 E-mail: [email protected]

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