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Dr. Harry WhelanHarry T. Whelan, MD

Bleser Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics and Hyperbaric Medicine
Director of Hyperbaric Medicine
Division of Pediatric Neurology

Specialty: Pediatric Neurology


  • Pediatric Neurology
  • Light Emitting Diode Therapy
  • Air and Gas Embolism 
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Smoke Inhalation 
  • Decompression Sickness 
  • Radiation Tissue Damage 
  • Burn Injury 
  • Developmental Disorders of the Central Nervous System 
  • Wound Healing 
  • Brain Tumors 
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Neurooncology


  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, 1979


  • Internship & Residency, Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, 1979-1984
  • Fellowship, Pediatric Neurology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1981-1984
  • Neurooncology, American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN, 1987–1990

Awards and Honors:

  • NAVY ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL (Research), 1995
  • NAVY & MARINE CORP COMMENDATION MEDAL (Professional School Liaison Officer), 1997
  • NASA-Space Technology Hall of Fame (Inducted for Research), 2000
  • Bleser Foundation Endowed Professorship awarded in Neurology, 2001 upgraded to Endowed Chair in 2008
  • Distinguished Research Professorship awarded, National Defense University, 2004
  • Chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine & Surgery - Senior R & D Officer, 2005
  • Neurooncology, American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN, 1987–1990
  • Neurooncology American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award 1987

Brief Clinical/Research Interest Statement:

Harry T. Whelan, MD, believes in a translational patient care philosophy of bringing the latest research discoveries from his laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. Dr. Whelan is the Bleser Family Endowed Chair in Neurology, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Professor of Neurology (Pediatrics), director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, and recipient of the Neuro-Oncology American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award from Vanderbilt University. He has been inducted into the NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame for his research into the use of near-infrared light for wound healing and the treatment of brain tumors and neurofibromatosis using photodynamic therapy. In a multiyear investigation approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Whelan studied the use of Near-infrared Light to promote healing of mucositis from chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer in children. Dr. Whelan found that diabetic skin ulcers and other wounds in mice healed much faster when exposed to the special LEDs in the lab. Near-infrared light stimulates improved energy metabolism in the mitochondria, leading to treatment for mitochondrial diseases which affect the brain, eye, heart and muscle. Dr. Whelan also is funded by the National Institutes of Health in a study of neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury and other childhood traumas. He also conducted a pilot study supported in part by the Clinical Translational Science Institute of near-infrared light therapy for diabetic macular edema, a form of diabetic eye disease. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding his research in neurological ischemia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), reperfusion and stroke, which affects many children with congenital heart disease. Dr. Whelan presented this translational bench-to-bedside research to the United States Congress at the NASA Spin-off Day on Capitol Hill as an example of how space research is helping patients.

Dr. Whelan holds the rank of Captain and is a Diving Medical Officer in the U.S. Navy, a consultant to the Navy Experimental Diving Unit with clinical and research experience in Hyperbaric Medicine, wound care and combat casualty care. He has over 100 publications, including cancer, laser, LED and diving/hyperbaric studies.



Full-Length, Original Manuscripts:

  1. Rietema, E., Whelan, H.T. Near Infrared Pulsating Converging Beam Device for Photodynamic Therapy of Brain Tumors. Proceedings 13th International Symposium on the Science and Technology of Lighting. 289-295, June 2012.
  2. Helms, A., Whelan, H.T. Hyperbaric Oxygen for Neurologic Indications. Action Plan for Multicenter Trials In: Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Radiation Encephalopathy and Status Migrainosus. Pediatria Polska Vol 87(5)429-437 Sept – Oct 2012
  3. Willoughby, R., Verma, S., Landisch, R., Schmainda, K., Prah, M., Quirk, B. Whelan, H.T. Presumed hydrogen sulfide-mediated neurotoxicity following Streptococcus anginosus group meningitis. Pediatr Infect Dis 32(2):189-91 Feb 2013.
  4. Whelan, H.T, Verma, S., Guo, Y., Thabet, F., Bozarth, X., Nwosu, M., Katyayan, A., Parachuri, V., Spangler, K., Ruggeri, B., Srivatsal, S., Zhang, G., Ashwal, S. Evaluation of the Child With Acute Ataxia: A Systematic Review. Pediatric Neurology, 2013;49(1):15-24
  5. Valadão, J., Pearl, J., Verma, S., Helms, A., Whelan, H.T. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for post-radiation central nervous system injury: A retrospective case series. UHM 2014;41(2) : 87- 96.
  6. Seidel, R., Carroll, C., Thompson, D., Diem, R., Yeboah, K., Hayes, A.J., Hall, B., Whelan, H.T. Risk factors for oxygen toxicity seizures in hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Case reports from multiple institutions. UHM 2014;40(6) : 515-519.
  7. Whelan, H.T, Annis, H., Guajardo, P. From Land to Sea; Embracing a Renewable Future. J Biotechnol Biomater 2014, S6.
  8. Valadao, J., Annis, H., O’Connor, S., Vigilante, j., DiGeorge, N., Bear, A., Kenyon, J., Dituri, J., Dituri, A., Whelan, H.T.  Ketogenic diet for high partial pressure oxygen diving. UHM 2014;40(5).
  9. Quirk, B.J., Sonowal, P., Jazayeri, M.A., Baker, J.E., Whelan, H.T. Cardioprotection from Ischemia Reperfusion Injury by Near-Infrared Light in Rats. Photomed Laser Surg. (Epub ahead of print) 2014
  10. Whelan HT. High-grade glioma/glioblastoma multiforme: is there a role for photodynamic therapy? J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2012 Oct 1;10 Suppl 2:S31-4 PMID 23055212
  11. Petrov GI, Doronin A, Whelan HT, Meglinski I, Yakovlev VV. Human tissue color as viewed in high dynamic range optical spectral transmission measurements. Biomed Opt Express 2012 Sep 1;3(9):2154-61 PMID 23024909
  12. Verma S, Landisch R, Quirk B, Schmainda K, Prah M, Whelan HT, Willoughby RE Jr. Presumed hydrogen sulfide-mediated neurotoxicity after streptococcus anginosus group meningitis. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013 Feb;32(2):189-91 PMID 23014355
  13. Quirk BJ, Torbey M, Buchmann E, Verma S, Whelan HT. Near-infrared photobiomodulation in an animal model of traumatic brain injury: improvements at the behavioral and biochemical levels. Photomed Laser Surg 2012 Sep;30(9):523-9 PMID 22793787
  14. Allen S, Kilian C, Phelps J, Whelan HT. The use of hyperbaric oxygen for treating delayed radiation injuries in gynecologic malignancies: a review of literature and report of radiation injury incidence. Support Care Cancer 2012 Oct;20(10):2467-72 PMID 22246598
  15. Quirk BJ, Desmet KD, Henry M, Buchmann E, Wong-Riley M, Eells JT, Whelan HT. Therapeutic effect of near infrared (NIR) light on Parkinson's disease models. Front Biosci (Elite Ed) 2012;4:818-23 PMID 22201916
  16. Hodgson BD, Margolis DM, Salzman DE, Eastwood D, Tarima S, Williams LD, Sande JE, Vaughan WP, Whelan HT. Amelioration of oral mucositis pain by NASA near-infrared light-emitting diodes in bone marrow transplant patients. Support Care Cancer 2012 Jul;20(7):1405-15 PMID 21725826
  17. Quirk BJ, Whelan HT. Near-infrared irradiation photobiomodulation: the need for basic science. Photomed Laser Surg 2011 Mar;29(3):143-4 PMID 21375455
  18. Hodgson BD, Pyszka B, Henry MM, Buchmann E, Whelan HT. Effect of photobiomodulation on vinblastine-poisoned murine HERS cells. Photomed Laser Surg 2011 Apr;29(4):233-7 PMID 21182449
  19. Hymer WC, Welsch J, Buchmann E, Risius M, Whelan HT. Modulation of rat pituitary growth hormone by 670 nm light. Growth Horm IGF Res 2009 Jun;19(3):274-9 PMID 19091612
  20. Zhang R, Mio Y, Pratt PF, Lohr N, Warltier DC, Whelan HT, Zhu D, Jacobs ER, Medhora M, Bienengraeber M Near infrared light protects cardiomyocytes from hypoxia and reoxygenation injury by a nitric oxide dependent mechanism. J Mol Cell Cardiol 2009 Jan;46(1):4-14 PMID 18930064
  21. Ying R, Liang HL, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Wong-Riley MT. Pretreatment with near-infrared light via light-emitting diode provides added benefit against rotenone- and MPP+-induced neurotoxicity. Brain Res 2008 Dec 3;1243:167-73 PMID 18848925
  22. Whelan HT, Cook JD, Amlie-Lefond CM, Hovinga CA, Chan AK, Ichord RN, Deveber GA, Thall PF. Practical model-based dose finding in early-phase clinical trials: optimizing tissue plasminogen activator dose for treatment of ischemic stroke in children. Stroke 2008 Sep;39(9):2627-36 PMID 18617665
  23. Liang HL, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Wong-Riley MT. Near-infrared light via light-emitting diode treatment is therapeutic against rotenone- and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion-induced neurotoxicity. Neuroscience 2008 Jun 2;153(4):963-74 PMID 18440709
  24. Helms AK, Whelan HT, Torbey MT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy of acute ischemic stroke. Stroke 2007 Apr;38(4):1137; author reply 1138-9 PMID 17322069
  25. Yeager RL, Lim J, Millsap DS, Jasevicius AV, Sanders RA, Whelan HT, Watkins JB 3rd, Eells JT, Henshel DS. 670 nanometer light treatment attenuates dioxin toxicity in the developing chick embryo. J Biochem Mol Toxicol 2006;20(6):271-8 PMID 17163486
  26. Yeager RL, Franzosa JA, Millsap DS, Lim J, Hansen CM, Jasevicius AV, Heise SS, Wakhungu P, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Henshel DS. Brief report: embryonic growth and hatching implications of developmental 670-nm phototherapy and dioxin co-exposure. Photomed Laser Surg 2006 Jun;24(3):410-3 PMID 16875452
  27. Desmet KD, Paz DA, Corry JJ, Eells JT, Wong-Riley MT, Henry MM, Buchmann EV, Connelly MP, Dovi JV, Liang HL, Henshel DS, Yeager RL, Millsap DS, Lim J, Gould LJ, Das R, Jett M, Hodgson BD, Margolis D, Whelan HT. Clinical and experimental applications of NIR-LED photobiomodulation. Photomed Laser Surg 2006 Apr;24(2):121-8 PMID 16706690
  28. Yeager RL, Franzosa JA, Millsap DS, Lim J, Heise SS, Wakhungu P, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Henshel DS. Survivorship and mortality implications of developmental 670-nm phototherapy: dioxin co-exposure. Photomed Laser Surg 2006 Feb;24(1):29-32 PMID 16503785
  29. Liang HL, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Meng H, Buchmann E, Lerch-Gaggl A, Wong-Riley M. Photobiomodulation partially rescues visual cortical neurons from cyanide-induced apoptosis. Neuroscience 2006 May 12;139(2):639-49 PMID 16464535
  30. Amlie-Lefond C, Paz DA, Connelly MP, Huffnagle GB, Whelan NT, Whelan HT. Innate immunity for biodefense: a strategy whose time has come. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005 Dec;116(6):1334-42 PMID 16337468
  31. Helms AK, Whelan HT, Torbey MT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy of cerebral ischemia. Cerebrovasc Dis 2005;20(6):417-26 PMID 16230845
  32. Eells JT, Wong-Riley MT, VerHoeve J, Henry M, Buchman EV, Kane MP, Gould LJ, Das R, Jett M, Hodgson BD, Margolis D, Whelan HT. Mitochondrial signal transduction in accelerated wound and retinal healing by near-infrared light therapy. Mitochondrion 2004 Sep;4(5-6):559-67 PMID 16120414
  33. Yeager RL, Franzosa JA, Millsap DS, Angell-Yeager JL, Heise SS, Wakhungu P, Lim J, Whelan HT, Eells JT, Henshel DS. Effects of 670-nm phototherapy on development. Photomed Laser Surg 2005 Jun;23(3):268-72 PMID 15954813
  34. Wong-Riley MT, Liang HL, Eells JT, Chance B, Henry MM, Buchmann E, Kane M, Whelan HT. Photobiomodulation directly benefits primary neurons functionally inactivated by toxins: role of cytochrome c oxidase. J Biol Chem 2005 Feb 11;280(6):4761-71 PMID 15557336
  35. Schmidt MH, Meyer GA, Reichert KW, Cheng J, Krouwer HG, Ozker K, Whelan HT. Evaluation of photodynamic therapy near functional brain tissue in patients with recurrent brain tumors. J Neurooncol 2004 Mar-Apr;67(1-2):201-7 PMID 15072468
  36. Sommer AP, Oron U, Pretorius AM, McKay DS, Ciftcioglu N, Mester AR, Kajander EO, Whelan HT. A preliminary investigation into light-modulated replication of nanobacteria and heart disease. J Clin Laser Med Surg 2003 Aug;21(4):231-5 PMID 13678461
  37. Whelan HT, Buchmann EV, Dhokalia A, Kane MP, Whelan NT, Wong-Riley MT, Eells JT, Gould LJ, Hammamieh R, Das R, Jett M. Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on molecular changes for wound healing in diabetic mice. J Clin Laser Med Surg 2003 Apr;21(2):67-74 PMID 12737646
  38. Eells JT, Henry MM, Summerfelt P, Wong-Riley MT, Buchmann EV, Kane M, Whelan NT, Whelan HT. Therapeutic photobiomodulation for methanol-induced retinal toxicity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2003 Mar 18;100(6):3439-44 PMID 12626762
  39. Whelan HT, Connelly JF, Hodgson BD, Barbeau L, Post AC, Bullard G, Buchmann EV, Kane M, Whelan NT, Warwick A, Margolis D. NASA light-emitting diodes for the prevention of oral mucositis in pediatric bone marrow transplant patients. J Clin Laser Med Surg 2002 Dec;20(6):319-24 PMID 12513918
  40. Whelan HT, Smits RL Jr, Buchman EV, Whelan NT, Turner SG, Margolis DA, Cevenini V, Stinson H, Ignatius R, Martin T, Cwiklinski J, Philippi AF, Graf WR, Hodgson B, Gould L, Kane M, Chen G, Caviness J. Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on wound healing. J Clin Laser Med Surg 2001 Dec;19(6):305-14 PMID 11776448
  41. Wong-Riley MT, Bai X, Buchmann E, Whelan HT. Light-emitting diode treatment reverses the effect of TTX on cytochrome oxidase in neurons. Neuroreport 2001 Oct 8;12(14):3033-7 PMID 11568632
  42. Sommer AP, Pinheiro AL, Mester AR, Franke RP, Whelan HT. Biostimulatory windows in low-intensity laser activation: lasers, scanners, and NASA's light-emitting diode array system. J Clin Laser Med Surg 2001 Feb;19(1):29-33 PMID 11547815
  43. Schmidt MH, Reichert KW 2nd, Ozker K, Meyer GA, Donohoe DL, Bajic DM, Whelan NT, Whelan HT. Preclinical evaluation of benzoporphyrin derivative combined with a light-emitting diode array for photodynamic therapy of brain tumors. Pediatr Neurosurg 1999 May;30(5):225-31 PMID 10461068
  44. Whelan HT, Kindwall EP. Hyperbaric oxygen. Some unanswered questions despite clinical usefulness. Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;454:441-5 PMID 9889922
  45. Whelan HT, Bajic DM, Karlovits SM, Houle JM, Kindwall EP. Use of cytochrome-P450 mono-oxygenase 2 E1 isozyme inhibitors to delay seizures caused by central nervous system oxygen toxicity. Aviat Space Environ Med 1998 May;69(5):480-5 PMID 9591618
  46. Whelan HT, Krouwer HG, Schmidt MH, Reichert KW, Kovnar EH. Current therapy and new perspectives in the treatment of medulloblastoma. Pediatr Neurol 1998 Feb;18(2):103-15 PMID 9535295
  47. Schmidt MH, Bajic DM, Reichert KW 2nd, Martin TS, Meyer GA, Whelan HT. Light-emitting diodes as a light source for intraoperative photodynamic therapy. Neurosurgery 1996 Mar;38(3):552-6; discussion 556-7 PMID 8837808
  48. Whelan HT, Williams MB, Bajic DM, Flores RE, Schmidt MH, McAuliffe TL, Chitambar CR. Gallium nitrate delays the progression of microscopic disease in a human medulloblastoma murine model. Pediatr Neurol 1994 Jul;11(1):44-6 PMID 7986292
  49. Whelan HT, Williams MB, Bajic DM, Segura AD, McAuliffe TL, Chitambar CR. Prevention of gallium toxicity by hyperhydration in treatment of medulloblastoma. Pediatr Neurol 1994 May;10(3):217-20 PMID 8060423
  50. Whelan HT, Kras LH, Ozker K, Bajic D, Schmidt MH, Liu Y, Trembath LA, Uzum F, Meyer GA, Segura AD. Selective incorporation of 111In-labeled PHOTOFRIN by glioma tissue in vivo. J Neurooncol 1994;22(1):7-13 PMID 7714553
  51. Whelan HT, Schmidt MH, Segura AD, McAuliffe TL, Bajic DM, Murray KJ, Moulder JE, Strother DR, Thomas JP, Meyer GA. The role of photodynamic therapy in posterior fossa brain tumors. A preclinical study in a canine glioma model. J Neurosurg 1993 Oct;79(4):562-8 PMID 8410226
  52. Whelan HT, Przybylski C, Bajic DM, Schmidt MH. Intracellular growth factor metabolism in proliferation of a brain tumor cell line. Intracellular growth factors and brain tumor proliferation. J Neurooncol 1993 Mar;15(3):243-50 PMID 8395569
  53. Whelan HT, Schmidt MH, Anderson GS, Chan BK, Hunter K, Kubacki D, Segura AD, Chitambar CR. Antineoplastic effects of gallium nitrate on human medulloblastoma in vivo. Pediatr Neurol 1992 Sep-Oct;8(5):323-7 PMID 1418174
  54. Whelan HT, Traul DL, Przybylski C, Segura A, Thomas J, Meyer G, Sieber F. Interactions of merocyanine 540 with human brain tumor cells. Pediatr Neurol 1992 Mar-Apr;8(2):117-20 PMID 1580954
  55. Tang TT, Whelan HT, Meyer GA, Strother DR, Blank EL, Camitta BM, Franciosi RA. Optic chiasm glioma associated with inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone, cerebral ischemia, nonobstructive hydrocephalus and chronic ascites following ventriculoperitoneal shunting. Childs Nerv Syst 1991 Dec;7(8):458-61 PMID 1790531
  56. Whelan HT, Przybylski C, Chitambar CR. Alteration of DNA synthesis in human brain tumor cells by gallium nitrate in vitro. Pediatr Neurol 1991 Sep-Oct;7(5):352-4 PMID 1764137
  57. D'Cruz OF, Whelan HT. Breathholding spells and esophageal foreign body. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1991 May;30(5):295-6 PMID 2044339
  58. Whelan HT, Przybylski C, Chitambar CR. Differential effects of gallium nitrate on proliferation of brain tumor cells in vitro. Pediatr Neurol 1991 Jan-Feb;7(1):23-7 PMID 2029289
  59. Whelan HT. Medulloblastoma cell line. Pediatr Neurol 1990 Jul-Aug;6(4):282 PMID 2206165
  60. Galloway RL Jr, Maciunas RJ, Failinger AL, Whelan HT. Volumetric measurement of canine gliomas using MRI. Magn Reson Imaging 1990;8(2):161-5 PMID 2338896



  1. Kindwall, E.P.; Whelan, H.T. (Eds.) Hyperbaric Medicine Practice, Second Edition. Best Publ., 2002. ISBN 0-941332-78-0
  2. Whelan HT: Chapters in: Hyperbaric Medicine Practice, 3rd edition Best Publishing, AZ, 2008:
    1. Oxygen Toxicity,
    2. Neurologic Aspects of Hyperbaric Medicine,
    3. Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Infectious Diseases: Basic Mechanisms,
    4. Gas Gangrene.  


Froedtert Hospital Foundation 2014 – 2015
Title: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO2T for Migraine Headache

US Navy Experimental Diving Unit 2007-2014
Title:     Electrophysiological Effects of Underwater Voltage Gradient Defense System

Benjamin NOW Fund
2011 – 2014
Title:     Photodynamic Therapy for Benign Dermal NF Using Levulan Kerastick

NIH/Clinical and Translational Science Institute 2012 - 2014
Title:     Photodynamic Therapy for Childhood Brain Tumors

NIH/Clinical and Translational Science Institute 2012 - 2014       
Title:     Mechanisms of antimicrobial effect of blue light and hyperbaric oxygen on MRSA

Covidien 2012- 2017
Title:     Cerebral oxygen saturation in children with epilepsy: A pilot study

Covidien 2012- 2017
Title:     Near infrared Spectroscopy for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

Pinnacle Biologics, Inc 2012- 2017  
Title:     PDT for Brain Tumor Dispersal

Clinical & Translational Science Institute 2012 – 2013
Effect of blue light on Methicillin resistant Staph. aureus (MRSA)

NIH CTSI  9/15/2012 – 9/14/2017
Title:  Photodynamic therapy for Brain Tumors 

Children’s Tumor Foundation ( New York) 2013 – 2018
Photodynamic Therapy for Neurofibromatosis

Chad Baumann Research Foundation Endowment
Endowed Research Fund as eternal endowed trust for Dr. Whelan
Bleser Foundation – Endowed Professorship
as eternal endowed trust for Dr. Whelan
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 08/19/2014