LAser Microbeam Program (LAMP)

Michael and Roberta Berns LAser Microbeam Program (LAMP)

The Laser Microbeam Program (LAMP) was first funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a National Biotechnology Resource Center in 1979. LAMP initially opened in UCI’s School of Biological Sciences, Department of Developmental and Cell Biology and subsequently became the core program of the newly established Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (BLIMC) in 1986. It was the seminal research program that attracted funding for the BLIMC from philanthropist/industrialist Dr. Arnold O. Beckman. The main objective of LAMP (aka LAMMP, with added M to emphasize laser medical applications) was/still is using focused laser beams through the microscope to study fundamental aspects of cell and developmental biology. LAMMP existed with funding from NIH until 2019 when, after 40 years, it was sun-setted according to NIH policies. However, because of the continued importance and development of optical microscopy technologies, specifically for example, the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Arthur Ashkin in 2019 for the development of optical tweezers as a complement to laser scissors, the use of microbeam strategies in cell and developmental biology has grown enormously and the continuation of LAMP became a priority of the BLIMC. As a result of this continued ground breaking application of laser microbeam technologies, the Board of Directors of the Beckman Laser Institute Foundation, provided a gift of 1 Million dollars to UCI for renovation of lab space in the BLIMC that is named the Michael and Roberta Berns Laser Microbeam Program (LAMP). The new LAMP has an array of lasers, optical systems, and imaging capabilities that are available for collaborative use by UCI faculty and students as well as from scientists around the world. Current collaborators are from the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Europe.
Current projects include the use of laser-induced shock waves to simulate traumatic brain injury and explore treatments on a cellular level, laser tweezers to study the forces associated with separation of chromosomes during cell division, inter and intracellular changes in calcium ion concentration following neuronal cell injury and recovery, phagocytic response of injured cells derived from Huntington’s disease knock-out mice, and the development of a unique quantitative phase microscopy (QPM) laser scissors and tweezers platform. Other directions for research include the adoption of complex light for opto-mechanical stimulation and for biological imaging, new trapping paradigms for nanoscopic optical trapping and exploring neurophotonic stimulation of cells.