Michael and Roberta Berns LAMP

Through joint sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and UCI, the Laser Microbeam Program (LAMP) was established on December 1, 1980 as a national user facility under the Biotechnology Resources Program.  Originally launched in the UCI School of Biological Sciences Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, LAMP became the core research program of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic.

With UCI Professor Dr. Michael W. Berns serving as principal investigator, LAMP attracted the attention of philanthropist Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, leading to the establishment of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic in 1982. The main objective of LAMP (later known as LAMMP, with an additional “M” to emphasize laser medical applications) was the use of laser beams to the study fundamental aspects of cell and developmental biology under the microcope.

For over 40 years, LAMMP supported core Institute technology research development, collaboration, training, dissemination and service. With a large array of lasers, optical systems and imaging capabilities, LAMMP has attracted collaborators from around the world, including researchers from Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan.

In 2019, the NIH ceased to fund LAMMP due to a mandatory sunsetting rule. However, due to developments in microbeam strategies in cell and developmental biology and the growing demand for innovative optical microscopy technologies, LAMP continues as an Institute priority.

In recognition of a $1 million gift from the Beckman Laser Institute, Inc. non-profit, UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic established the Michael and Roberta Berns LAser Microbeam Program (LAMP) Laboratory in honor of Institute Founding Director Dr. Berns and his wife, Roberta.  Through the generosity of Beckman Laser Institute, Inc. non-profit, the Institute renovated an obsolete electron microscopy laboratory suite and purchased state-of-the-art equipment for advanced characterization, imaging and manipulation of cells.

Today, LAMP investigations include:

  • the use of laser-induced shock waves to simulate traumatic brain injury, exploring treatments on a cellular level
  • the use of laser tweezers to study the forces associated with the separation of chromosomes during cell division
  • the study of inter and intracellular changes in calcium ion concentration following neuronal cell injury and recovery
  • phagocytic response of injured cells derived from Huntington’s disease
  • the development of a unique quantitative phase microscopy (QPM) laser scissors and tweezers platform

Future LAMP research directions include:

  • the adoption of complex light for opto-mechanical stimulation and biological imaging
  • new paradigms for nanoscopic optical trapping
  • exploring neurophotonic stimulation of cells