August 16, 2022

Passing of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Michael Berns

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Michael Berns, longtime faculty member and founding director of the UCI Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, at his home on Saturday, August 13, 2022.

Professor Berns earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cornell University in 1964 and 1968, respectively. He came to UCI from the University of Michigan in 1973 as the chair of the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology within the School of Biological Sciences, and also held appointments in the School of Medicine and The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Professor Berns co-founded, with Arnold Beckman, the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic in 1982 and served as its director until 2003. He also founded the first Laser Microbeam Program, the UCI Center for Biomedical Engineering, and the UCI Photonics Incubator. He was the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor from 1988-2020.

Professor Berns’s pioneering work focused on the use of laser technology in medical and biological research. He developed tools and techniques for the surgical use of lasers, down to the level of manipulating single cells and individual chromosomes. He published extensively on the use of lasers in both biomedical research and medical treatment of illnesses including skin disorders, vascular disease, eye problems, and cancer.

Professor Berns was an elected fellow/member in numerous scientific and engineering societies, including, the Royal Society of Biology of Great Britain, the Academy of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. In 1994, he was awarded the UCI medal – the highest award at UCI for outstanding career achievements.

Michael Berns will be greatly missed by his friends and professional colleagues around the world. The entire university community joins me in sending condolences to his devoted children, Greg and Tammy.