Michael W. Berns

Founding Director, UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic
Distinguished Professor, Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, Developmental and Cell Biology
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Chair in Laser Biomedicine

Dr. Michael W. Berns, along with Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, was the cofounder of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic.  He served as Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering, surgery and developmental and cell biology and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Chair in Laser Biomedicine.

Dr. Berns oversaw the Cellular Biophotonics Laboratory at UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic and was the original principal investigator for the LAser Microbeam & Medical Program (LAMMP) grant (continuously funded since the late-1970s) and the Department of Defense core grant (continuously funded since 1986). He served as director of the Michael and Roberta Berns LAser Microbeam Program (LAMP) and the Institute’s Photonics Incubator, which he established in 1996.

Through his research, Dr. Berns endeavored to solve numerous biomedical problems through the application of lasers and other photonics devices.  His laboratory was focused on how the body’s cells and tissues respond to light at the subcellular, cellular and tissue levels.

Dr. Berns’ research continues in the Berns Laboratory, where scientists study the mechanism of nervous system repair following injury at the single cell level. The team uses lasers to create shock waves that produce damage similar to traumatic brain injury, allowing the study of how nervous system cells repair after shockwave damage. This work extends to degenerative diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease.

Dr. Berns received numerous awards and honors, including the UCI Medal, recognized at UCI’s Lauds & Laurels for Professional Achievement. He was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), the American Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and the American Society for Lasers in Medical Sciences – the latter organization honoring him with the William B. Mark Award. The Vascular Birthmark Foundation named its most prestigious award for Dr. Berns, the Dr. Michael W. Berns Achievement Award, for outstanding research contributions. Internationally, Dr. Berns was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (UK), a Foreign Member of the Royal Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (UK).

Dr. Berns is named on 11 patents and was responsible for securing more than $63 million in extramural grants and $40 million in philanthropic support as the founding director of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic.  The Berns Laboratory continues to lead two research grants funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research: RoboLase and the Advanced Optical Technologies for Defense Trauma and Critical Care.

As the cofounder of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic with primary benefactor Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, Dr. Berns’ imprint on the Institute is indelible.  Please see UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic’s history for more information about Dr. Michael Berns and UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic.

Research Interests
+ Laser tissue interactions
+ Laser microbeam studies on cell structure/function
+ Photonics-based biomedical instrumentation
+ Ophthalmology
+ Oncology
+ Fertility