Message from the Founder

In 1982 Arnold O. Beckman helped me start on a journey to establish an interdisciplinary institute focused around the use of light (photons). The core idea was to use lasers to study the basic biology of cells, and to apply the knowledge gained from those basic studies to understanding, diagnosing and treating disease. We designed and built a facility, the Beckman Laser Institute (BLI), specifically with these ideas in mind comprised of basic cellular and biochemistry labs, engineering labs, a histopathology lab, and a human clinic. All of this under the same roof was designed to entice interactions between a diverse set of individuals: basic scientists, engineers and clinicians.

Twenty-five years after I started on that journey, I can look back and visualize a path, albeit at times strewn with obstacles (and a little hemoglobin), that has led to something far greater than we ever imagined, and which Arnold O. Beckman was proud of until the day he died at the age of 104. The scientists, staff, students, and collaborators of the BLI are more diverse (physicists, biologists, veterinarians, dentists, mathematicians, engineers, etc) and from more distant corners of this planet (Israel, China, Norway, Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Australia, etc) than I ever imagined. Medical devices based upon the basic research conducted at the BLI have been built, tested, patented, and commercialized. Some are now in the hands of clinicians for routine use in the treatment of disfiguring birthmarks in children, and others are well on their way for applications in breast cancer, and many other diseases.

The future of the BLI is bright. I am excited and confident about the next 25 years of this dream path that started on a rare rainy Southern California day in 1980.

Michael W. Berns
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor