Message from the Founding Director

In 1982, Dr. Arnold O. Beckman and I established an interdisciplinary institute focused on the use of light (photons). The core idea was to use lasers to study the basic biology of cells and apply the knowledge gained from the studies to understand, diagnose and treat disease. We purposely designed and built a facility, UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, which included basic cellular and biochemistry, engineering and histopathology laboratories and a patient clinic.  By including these features – under one collaborative umbrella – we envisioned collaboration between diverse groups of individuals: basic scientists, engineers and clinicians.

Over 30 years later, reflecting on our long journey, I visualize a path – albeit at times strewn with obstacles (and a little hemoglobin) – that has led to something far greater than Dr. Beckman and I ever conceived. The physicians, scientists, administration, students and collaborators of the Institute are more diverse (physicists, biologists, 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 on the basic research conducted at the Institute 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, while others are well on their way for detecting and treating devastating diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The future of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic is bright. I am excited and confident about the next 40+ years of this journey that Dr. Beckman and I embarked on – one rainy Southern California day back in 1980.

Michael W. Berns, Ph.D (1942-2022)
Cofounder, UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Chair
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Developmental and Cell Biology
Professor, Surgery