Thomas Milner to Lead Beckman Laser Institute

June 3, 2020 - The UC Irvine Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic has named Thomas Milner its third director. Milner, a pioneering developer of optical-based medical instrumentation, also will join the faculty in the departments of biomedical engineering and surgery, effective July 1, 2020.

Milner comes to UCI from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the Joe King Professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering. Milner’s research involves development of novel optical tomographic imaging modalities and laser surgical procedures for diagnosis and treatment of disease. His inventions have helped physicians better detect and diagnose illnesses such as glaucoma and heart disease, and they have helped treat many dermatological conditions. He has published 187 journal articles, holds 55 issued U.S. patents and has started two technology companies. Milner is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery.

“I am very excited that Professor Milner has been selected to lead the Beckman Laser Institute,” said Zoran Nenadic, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “He brings a wealth of experience in the development of novel optical imaging techniques and laser surgical procedures for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In addition to his academic record, he is a prolific inventor and entrepreneur. Besides his leadership role, Tom will make significant academic contributions to our department, and I look forward to working with him.”      

“BLIMC is one of the world’s foremost centers in biophotonics and photomedicine,” said Milner, who spent five years at the Beckman Laser Institute in the early 1990s, first as a Whitaker Research Fellow (1992-94) then as a research assistant professor (1994-97), before moving to University of Texas in 1998. “It is an honor to be able to lead BLIMC into the next generation of transformative science and engineering to advance human health.”

Milner looks forward to leading BLIMC and participating in “a culture where innovation and translation is supported, encouraged and celebrated,” he said. “We want BLIMC to be recognized by industry as an excellent partner for both knowledge, intellectual property, scientific and engineering expertise, and as a source of students who wish to pursue industrial careers.”

Milner’s goals for the BLIMC include developing a strategic plan with input from various stakeholders including faculty, the medical school, industry, science, engineering and university administration. He also plans to establish an external advisory committee for the institute.

“I mostly look forward to working with a number of people of excellent character and vision who are working very hard to make our world a better place for all people,” he said.  

– Lori Brandt

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