J. Stuart Nelson

Medical Director, BLI
Professor, Surgery
Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Nelson is the Medical Director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic and is professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine. He is engaged in full-time clinical practice serving patients with pediatric port wine stain birthmarks, hemangiomas, and other vascular malformations and skin disorders. Dr. Nelson also founded the UC Irvine Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Diagnostic and Treatment Center and serves as its Director.

Dr. Nelson invented and pioneered the development of “dynamic cooling,” a technique that combines precise cryogen spray delivery with laser energy to optimize the treatment of skin disorders. Dynamic cooling was a paradigm-shifting development that simultaneously revolutionized academic research and re-invigorated a stagnant medical laser industry. His interdisciplinary research is in optics, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Dr. Nelson seeks to integrate experimental and theoretical descriptions of light propagation in biological tissues. His current research addresses problems such as photo-thermal heating in tissue; optimization of laser tissue dosimetry for surgery; modeling of bioheat transfer; combined photo-chemical and photo-thermal therapies for neoplasms; infrared tomography; and optical, thermal, and acoustic imaging of living tissue. Dr. Nelson has partnered commercially with the Candela Corporation, and their Dynamic Cooling Device is now integral to more than 25,000 lasers worldwide used to improve the lives of tens of thousands of children with port wine stains and other vascular malformations.

In 2005, Dr. Nelson was named “Physician of the Year” by the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (VBF) for his role in pioneering novel treatments for port wine stains and his efforts in establishing UCI as a center of excellence in treating these disorders. He has been integral to managing, family counseling, and raising funds to defray travel expenses for individuals in need of treatment.

Dr. Nelson has been awarded 15 patents by the United States Patent Office. He has published more than 340 scientific articles and 15 book chapters and is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on both optical properties of human skin and the biophysics of laser-tissue interaction. In addition, he is widely sought as a public speaker and has given more than 70 invited presentations at international meetings and symposia. He has served as President of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) 2001-2002 and was Editor-in-Chief of the ASLMS journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 2005-2015. Dr. Nelson has been recognized by the ASLMS and received all three of the society’s lectureship awards: the Ellet Drake, M.D., Lectureship Award (2004), Leon Goldman, M.D., Lectureship Award, (2007), and the Caroline and William Mark Memorial Lectureship Award, (2009).

Dr. Nelson earned his B.S. in biological science and M.D. from the University of Southern California, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.

Research Interests
+ Laser surgery
+ Port wine stains
+ Hemangiomas
+ Vascular birthmarks