NIH taps Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., to lead the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Press Releases
September 6, 2018
UPDATE: Jan. 7, 2019. During an official swearing in ceremony today at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, NIH Director Francis Collins officially welcomed Bruce Tromberg to assume the post of Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Read more about Dr. Tromberg’s appointment below.
Swearing in ceremony with Francis Collins, Bruce Tromberg, and Patti Tromberg
NIH Director Francis Collins administered the oath of office to the new NIBIB Director, Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., on Jan. 7, 2019, joined by Patti Tromberg.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has selected Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., as director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). A pioneering leader in the field of biophotonics, Dr. Tromberg is currently a professor at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), with dual appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery. He is also director of UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, an interdisciplinary research, teaching and clinical center for optics and photonics in biology and medicine. He is expected to join NIH in the new year.

Bruce Tromberg
Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D. (Photo by Paul Kennedy/for UCI)

“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. “We look forward to having him join the NIH to guide NIBIB in the development and testing of biotechnologies to advance human health.”

In his new role, Dr. Tromberg will oversee 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 will comprise 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 has conducted extensive NIH-supported research, and has been 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 has 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. “She has agreed to continue to serve in a leadership role as the NIBIB deputy director.”

Press inquiries: Contact the NIH News Media Branch, NIH OCPL, 301-496-5787


About the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: NIBIB’s mission is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care. NIBIB supports emerging technology research and development within its internal laboratories and through grants, collaborations, and training. More information is available at the NIBIB website:

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit