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Olympic medal record
Men's Sailing
Competitor for  United States
Gold Helsinki 1952 5.5 metre class

Britton Chance (born July 24, 1913) is Eldridge Reeves Johnson University Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Biophysics, as well as of Physical Chemistry and Radiological Physics in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. (1935), M.A. (1936) and Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry 1940 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of St. Anthony Hall. He earned a second Ph.D. at Cambridge University in 1942 in Biology/Physiology. In 1952 he received his D.Sc. from Cambridge. His research interests focus on the use of infrared light to characterize the properties of various tissues and breast tumors. He joined the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1952. Chance received the National Medal of Science in 1974. He was also previously elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Medical Sciences, in 1968, as well as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (London) in 1981.

During World War II, Chance worked for the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was working on the development of radar.

He won a gold medal for the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympics in the 5½ Meter Class, alongside Edgar White and Sumner White.

Since 1990 Chance has been the Director of the Institute for Biophysical and Biomedical Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Honorary degrees

  • MDs from: Karolinska Institute (in 1962), University of Düsseldorf (1991),University of Buenos Aires (1993), University of Copenhagen (1995), Universita Degli Studi Di Roma "Tor Vergata" (1997).
  • D.Sc. degrees from: Medical College of Ohio at Toledo in 1974, Semmelweis University in 1976, Hahnemann Medical College in 1977, University of Pennsylvania in 1985, University of Helsinki in 1990.


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