“Rage Against the Dying of the Light”

-Dylan Thomas

Soon after 9/11, our small company in Ohio was struggling to keep the factory open . When anthrax emerged as a bio-terrorist threat, we began to look to germicidal light as a possible countermeasure.  This led us to Dr. Philip Brickner at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Dr. Melvin First at the Harvard School of Public Health. At the time, both were the among the world’s leading authorities in Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation. Each contributed freely to our understanding of the science and the development of useful germ killing products.

“Phil” and “Mel” were dedicated to their work up until passing, at age 85 and 95 respectively. In one conversation about a particularly demanding project, Phil (80ish) was lamenting that the work “might outlast him.” Mel (90ish) replied: “And we shall miss you.” We would be remiss if we did not recognize them for their brilliance and expertise but mainly for the human compassion that motivated them and was reflected throughout their life’s work.

Melvin First at his Desk
Image courtesy of Countway Library of Medicine, HMS

Dr. Melvin W. First 1915-2011

Mel First was a member of the Harvard School of Public Health since becoming a research fellow there in 1947. He was actively involved in research and teaching until he passed away.  Although he retired officially at age 70, he continued to work productively at Harvard for more than 25 years after that.

Mel’s career was remarkable at Harvard because of the quality and innovation of his work. He led the Harvard School of Public Health program in air cleaning for nearly four decades. He was recognized internationally for his research and field applications of filter theory, operation, and maintenance, and of nuclear air cleaning systems. For the past two decades he was heavily involved with international air disinfection research aimed at controlling pathogens such as drug resistant tuberculosis and influenza, and was co-founder of a unique continuing education summer course at HSPH to train engineers and architects from around the world in these methods.

Excerpt courtesy of The Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health. Sept 30, 2011 Memorial Symposium in honor of Dr. Melvin First

Dr. Philip Brickner House Call
Philip Brickner on a house call, Chinatown, NYC. Photo: NY Times/Marilyn K. Yee

Dr. Philip W. Brickner 1928-2014

Dr. Brickner was the son and grandson of physicians. In 1969, he and his colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan, began to wonder where all the elderly and debilitated men showing up in the emergency room were coming from. It turned out that they were all residing in the same single-room-occupancy hotel.

The doctors went to the building and found that it sheltered 1,200 men, including alcoholics, drug addicts and recently released prisoners. Each lived in a 6-by-8-foot cubicle made of cinder block and chicken wire. The visitors found a multitude of health problems, as well as many injuries inflicted on frailer residents by predatory stronger ones.

So began Dr. Brickner’s enduring mission of bringing medical care to those who most needed it, rather than waiting for them to come to him.

In addition to revivifying house calls, Dr. Brickner worked with academic researchers to battle a resurgence of tuberculosis in homeless shelters by using ultraviolet light to kill the airborne bacteria.

Dr. Brickner’s work, in collaboration with The Harvard School of Public Health and others, resulted in two patents for devices to generate germ killing ultraviolet light.
Excerpt courtesy of The New York Times, April 4, 2014.

About Us

Lawton Rogers, COO

Lawton is a seasoned intellectual property attorney, with a JD (Georgetown University) and an LLM in patent law (George Washington University), admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawton has worked with John and Abbas on intellectual property since 1995, and has obtained more than one hundred patents in the lighting industry.

John McEllen, CEO

John began his career as a light bulb salesman and held management positions at General Electric, Philips and Advanced Lighting Technologies. He invented the
Microsun Lamp and founded Microsun Technologies and thelightshop.com.

John has been dedicated to ultraviolet product development since 2001 and has designed and commercialized (4) UVC air cleaning products and holds 12 patents in the field of illumination and germicidal light.

Abbas Lamouri, CTO

Abbas immigrated to the United States in 1984. Within 10 years, he had earned his  PH.D. and began his career at NASA’s Lewis Research Center. He later was named Chief Technology Officer at Advanced Lighting Technologies and holds 10 lighting patents.

Abbas is uniquely skilled in filtering, the application of thin film coatings and precise
alignment of ultraviolet light for specific applications in industry and defense.