During an official swearing in ceremony on Jan. 7, 2019, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, NIH Director Francis Collins officially welcomed Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., to assume the post of Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Dr. Tromberg is a pioneering leader in the field of biophotonics who previously held dual appointments as professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). He also directed UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, an interdisciplinary research, teaching and clinical center for optics and photonics in biology and medicine.
“Bruce brings substantial experience in biophotonics, and demonstrated his commitment to state-of-the-art imaging and bioengineering technologies through his research and leadership on numerous advisory committees, including the NIBIB National Advisory Council,” said Dr. Collins.
In his new role, Dr. Tromberg oversees NIBIB’s annual budget of approximately $378 million. While a portion of the research budget is allocated to laboratories at NIH, the majority supports a portfolio of more than 800 active grants awarded to universities around the nation and internationally. His staff comprises approximately 230 employees who conduct or support research and development of new biomedical imaging and bioengineering technologies and techniques to fundamentally improve the detection, treatment and prevention of disease. NIBIB also supports multidisciplinary research in the physical, mathematical and computational sciences.
In his 30-plus-year academic and scientific career, Dr. Tromberg conducted extensive NIH-supported research, and was the principal investigator (PI) for multiple NIH grants going back as far as 1994. This includes 20 years as PI for the Laser Microbeam and Medical Program (LAMMP), an NIH National Biomedical Technology Resource Center where several cutting-edge technologies have been developed and disseminated to laboratories and clinics around the world. In addition to advisory committee appointments with numerous national and international entities, Dr. Tromberg provided expertise on NIH working groups, review committees, and boards, including the NIBIB National Advisory Council from 2012-2016.
Dr. Tromberg’s research spans biophotonics and biomedical optics, two rapidly growing fields that use light to image and conduct therapy at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. He has co-authored more than 450 publications and holds 18 patents for biophotonics technologies and their applications in areas such as cancer, neuroscience and vascular disease. He specializes in new technology development as well as the “bench to bedside” clinical translation, validation and commercialization of promising methods designed to improve human health.
As a high school student, Dr. Tromberg volunteered in a National Cancer Institute laboratory on the NIH Bethesda campus, graduating in 1974 from Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C. He earned a B.A. in chemistry and psychology in 1979 from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1988 from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. While completing his Ph.D., he conducted research as a Department of Energy predoctoral fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
“I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude to Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., for her commitment and leadership in serving as the NIBIB acting director since November 2017,” said Dr. Collins.