J. Stuart Nelson

Medical Director, Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic
Distinguished Professor, Surgery
Distinguished Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Dr. J. Stuart Nelson is the Medical Director of UCI Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic and Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering. 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 UCI 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.  Dr. Nelson partnered commercially with the Candela Corporation and the Dynamic Cooling Device is now integrated in more than 25,000 lasers worldwide, improving 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 in family counseling and raising funds to defray travel expenses for individuals in need of treatment.

Dr. Nelson’s 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 been awarded 15 patents by the U.S. Patent Office. He has published more than 350 scientific articles and 16 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 90 invited presentations at international meetings and symposia.

From 2001 to 2002, Dr. Nelson served as President of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS).  From 2005 to 2015, he was Editor-in-Chief of the ASLMS “Lasers in Surgery and Medicine” journal. Dr. Nelson has been recognized by the ASLMS, receiving all three of the society’s lectureship awards, including 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
+ Vascular birthmarks in infants and young children
+ Port wine stains
+ Hemangiomas
+ Laser surgery

  • Education

    Ph.D., UC Irvine
    M.D., USC

  • Clinic / Appointments