BLI Profiles

J. Stuart Nelson

Medical Director, Beckman Laser Institute
Professor, Surgery
Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Phone:  949.824.7526

Research Abstract

Dr. Nelson has a very active research program that includes studies at both the basic science and applied levels. The principal goal of his research has been to integrate experimental and theoretical descriptions of light propagation in homogeneous and heterogeneous biological tissues to yield a basis for dosimetry of laser-tissue interactions. Although his work on laser dosimetry is shared with workers in a variety of disciplines and pertinent to many clinical applications, he is particularly interested in addressing the problems associated with light propagation and dosimetry in human skin. The objective of this research is to develop non-invasive sensing techniques to determine experimentally the optical and thermal properties of skin. Substantial independent grant support for this research has been obtained by Dr. Nelson from the Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, Biomedical Research Technology Program, Whitaker Foundation, Dermatology Foundation, and private industry. In addition, to date he has received five awards from the National Institutes of Health totaling $6,000,000.

Dr. Nelson has made numerous contributions to the emerging fields of photomedicine and biomedical optics. To date, he has published more than 240 scientific articles and 13 book chapters. His findings have been published in authoritative journals (Physics in Medicine and Biology, Applied Optics, Optics Letters, Journal of the Optical Society of America, Journal of Biomedical Optics, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, Archives of Dermatology, Annals of Plastic Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cancer Research, Photochemistry and Photobiology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute) and presented at international and domestic scientific meetings. In September 1995, Dr. Nelson was appointed a Co-Editor of Lasers in Medical Science. He is also on the Editorial Board of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine and regularly serves as an editorial consultant for all the key laser and photobiology journals, including Photochemistry and Photobiology, Lasers for the Life Sciences and Journal of Laser Applications, as well as for ancillary journals in Oncology and Dermatology/Plastic Surgery such as Cancer Research, British Journal of Cancer, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology, and the Archives of Dermatology. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and has just assumed the office of President, effective April 2001. He has served as Chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee and Research and Development Committee in addition to presenting his research regularly at their meetings. He is also a member of the American Society of Photobiology (ASP), Society for Investigative Dermatology and Society of Photo-optical and Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). At last year's ASP Annual Meeting, he organized and chaired the session entitled "Laser Diagnostics and Photomedicine". In 1998, he was the co-chair for the Optical Society of America sponsored symposium "Physics and Biology of Laser Dermatology." In 2000, he was the co-chair for the Gordo Reserch Conference sponsored symposium "Lasers in Medicine and Biology." In 2001-2002, he was the President of The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

Dr. Nelson and colleagues developed and patented (US Patent No. 5,814,040) a novel Apparatus and Method for Dynamic Cooling (DC) of Biological Tissues for Thermal Mediated Surgery for use in conjunction with pulsed laser treatment of port wine stain (PWS) birthmarks. In studies conducted in Dr. Nelson's laboratory it was demonstrated that with dynamic cooling, the most superficial layer of human skin, the epidermis, could be cooled selectively. When a cryogen spurt is applied to the skin surface for an appropriately short period of time, (on the order of milliseconds), the spatial distribution of cooling remains localized in the epidermis, while leaving the temperature of the deeper targeted PWS blood vessels unchanged. Most importantly, DC has allowed the neonatal treatment of PWS birthmarks to become standard practice. Two laser manufacturers have obtained licenses from the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of California to develop the requisite instrumentation for commercial application and, to date, DC has been incorporated into, and sold in more than 8,000 laser devices worldwide. Further basic science and clinical studies are under way at BLIMC to determine an optimum strategy for applying this DC technique during pulsed dye laser treatment of other selected dermatoses.

Dr. Nelson is internationally recognized in the field as an expert in laser-tissue interactions. As such, he is an invited lecturer at many national and international society meetings. He has been invited to Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom to address major scientific symposia. He is frequently called upon to provide contributions to major textbooks and scientific journals on the preclinical and clinical aspects of lasers.

Dr. Nelson is also actively involved in several key committees serving the UCI College of Medicine. He has been a member of the Admissions Committee, Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee, Research Committee, Ad Hoc Personnel Review Committee, and the Beckman Laser Institute Operations Committee. Most of Dr. Nelson's teaching responsibilities relate to his active research programs. Dermatology residents rotate through the outpatient surgical clinic at BLIMC where, under his direct supervision, they acquire the requisite laser skills necessary for the appropriate clinical management of patients with selected dermatoses. Such preceptorships involve direct instruction and subsequent proctoring throughout their residency training program.

Finally, in addition to Dr. Nelson's research, teaching, and faculty responsibilities, he is engaged in university-based direct clinical practice serving patients with a diversity of clinical conditions amenable to laser therapy


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