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Gerwin J. Puppels was born March 25, 1962, in Almelo, Netherlands. He attended the University of Twente in the Netherlands, where he earned his doctorate degree in applied physics. During his post-doctoral work at the university from 1991–1994, he began a small research group focused on Raman spectroscopic technology development and applications.
In 1994, Puppels became associate professor at the Erasmus MC University Medical Center (EMC) Rotterdam. “I started a research group to explore clinical applications of Raman spectroscopy, again with technology development and applications development going hand-in-hand; one pushing the other and the other way around,” said Puppels.
In 2001, his work came to the attention of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. “From 1997 to 2002 my ten- to twelve-person research group at EMC had a close collaboration with the research group of Gerald Lucassen, PhD, at Philips Research Labs, looking for new techniques and methods to analyze and characterize skin, with my group focusing on development of in vivo diagnostic methods based on Raman spectroscopy,” added Puppels.
The results of this work were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (JID), among other scientific journals. Puppels discovered that his research led to the production of molecular concentration profiles as a function of distance to the skin surface. “In these publications we showed that detailed information about skin composition could be obtained using confocal Raman microspectroscopy. The combination of information about actual molecular composition obtained from the Raman spectra and the spatial resolution with which these spectra could be obtained enabled us to produce molecular concentration profiles as a function of distance to the skin surface,” said Puppels.
The Raman spectroscopy research paved the way for applications such as skin characterization/skin typing and monitoring penetration and effects of topically applied compounds, according to Puppels, which drew the attention of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.