Berns-SPIE SPARK Grants

Furthering innovation in biophotonics

Honoring Michael W. Berns, a laser tech and biomedical pioneer

The Berns-SPIE SPARK Grants are a partnership between SPIE and the Beckman Laser Institute (BLI) to honor former Beckman Laser Institute founder, chairman and CEO Michael W. Berns, who passed away in 2022. Michael was the 2022 winner of the SPIE Gold Medal, the Society’s highest honor, and a professor of surgery and cell biology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In addition to founding BLI, he founded the first Laser Microbeam Program, the UCI Center for Biomedical Engineering, and the UCI Photonics Incubator. Berns applied his research across a variety of illnesses including skin disorders, vascular and eye diseases, and cancer.

Grant details

Purpose and eligibility

The Berns-SPIE SPARK Grants are intended to support young research scientists – either postdocs or faculty – who are using lasers and other optically based systems to study basic cell processes or to develop technologies to diagnose and/or treat diseases in an innovative way that could have a major impact on the field of biophotonics.

Grants will be awarded between $50,000 and $100,000 and may be used for one or two years at the discretion of the review committee.

Applicants must be either a postdoctoral researcher or within their first two years as faculty. 

Application requirements

Each proposal must be no more than five pages (12pt font, single-spaced) excluding bibliography, figures, and budget.

The sections must be:

  1. Abstract/Summary (1/2 page or less; written so a person outside of your specific field can understand the project)
  2. Introduction/Significance/Innovation (1 page or less)*
    * The Introduction should state how this is a novel/innovative proposal that could lead to a major impact in the field of Biophotonics.
  3. Specific Objectives/With hypothesis (1/2 page)
  4. Experimental Design to achieve Objectives/Test Hypothesis/Collect Data (3 pages).
  5. Budget justification for direct costs only (indirect and overhead costs are not included as part of this grant)
  6. Bibliography and figures

    All supporting documents and a completed application must be received by 5:00 PM (Pacific Time) on Friday, 14 June 2024. 

    Please email with any questions.

    Submit grant application