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ASLMS History

Dr. Leon Goldman and Dr. Ellet Drake, along with a number of like-minded individuals, and a generous grant from William and Caroline Mark and the A. Ward Ford Foundation, founded the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) in 1981, with the first annual meeting held in San Diego, California.  

The Society had a unique concept where all interested parties including physicians, nurses and other clinicians, researchers, industrial and government representatives could meet and share their research and teaching for the benefit of medical care. Many years later, this concept is still a core tenet of our Society.


In March of 1979, Dr. Ellet H. Drake began working with Dr. Leon Goldman to establish an American society to encourage physicians and scientists to exchange knowledge, explore new uses for present equipment, and generate new medical lasers and accessories. They invited 280 outstanding physicians and scientists from all over the world to participate in an organizational meeting held in San Diego in January, 1981, and as a tribute to Dr. Goldman, the father of laser  medicine in the United States, over half of them accepted our invitation and paid their own expenses to come to this meeting.


William and Caroline Mark

The seed money necessary to establish the group was given to us by Mr. William B. Mark through the A. Ward Ford Institute. Mr. Mark died in October, 1980, and each year the A. Ward Ford Foundation presents an award in his honor to the individual considered by the Awards Committee of the Society to have made an outstanding contribution to laser medicine. The first of these awards was presented in 1982 to Dr. Goldman at the Annual Conference at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The first official Business Meeting for members was held in 1982 at the Annual Conference, with President Leon Goldman presiding. View ASLMS presidents.

It was the dream of the founders that this organization be unique and include in addition to physicians/clinicians, outstanding research individuals in the areas of biophysics, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, laser biology and laser safety. There was also a small group of individuals from industry included in the original charter membership. The idea was an immediate success with the Society showing a growth rate of approximately 40% per year during the first eight years with a steady increase in the number and size of commercial exhibits at the Annual Conferences.

From the beginning, the board established the fact that education both for physicians and the lay public should be a prime objective and asked their "Committee on Standards of Training and Practice" to formulate guidelines to aid hospital and clinic staffs in the area of credentialing. At the same time, it was decided that the Society itself would not be an active participant in the credentialing procedure. Another committee involved with post graduate education established additional guidelines for those wishing to develop laser short courses. Their recommendations were quite specific both as to the various levels of complexity and also for the suggested content at each level.

At the time of the organization of the Society two of its members Drs. Billie Aronoff and Eugene Friedman were co-editing a successful laser journal, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, published by Alan R. Liss of New York. This publication has continued to be the official organ of the Society, published by Wiley Publishing, under the current editorship of Dr. Brian J.F. Wong.

Membership in the Society has grown at a steady pace from 150 in 1981 to thousands of members. The home office has remained in Wausau, Wisconsin, with a staff of 12 employees.


History of ASLMS in Photos

Hover over or click on photo for description. 

  • Leon Goldman, MD
  • Ellet Drake, MD, co-founder of ASLMS
  • Leon Goldman
  • William B. Mark provided the seed money to establish ASLMS through the A. Ward Ford Memorial Institute.
  • Caroline Mark, philanthropist, continued to attend ASLMS meetings after the passing of her husband
  • Dianne Dalsky worked for Dr. Drake prior to the inception of ASLMS. Dianne retired from ASLMS in 2020, after 41 years of service.
  • 1981 - The first meeting of ASLMS was held in San Diego, California. 173 physicians and scientists from around the world attended.
  • 1981 - Lasers in Surgery and Medicine journal is adopted as an ASLMS publication.
  • 1984 - Ellet Drake, MD and Caroline Mark
  • 1985 - Exhibit Hall
  • 1986 - Posters
  • 1987 - (from left) Leon Goldman, MD; Ken Arndt, MD; Michael Berns, MD; Geza Jako, MD
  • 1988 - Billie Aronoff, MD and John Parrish, MD
  • 1989 - Scientific Session
  • 1993 - Leon Goldman, MD
  • 1994 - President Ronald Wheeland, MD with Ellet Drake, MD
  • 1996 - President Raymond Lanzafame, MD, MBA and David Goldberg, MD, JD
  • 1997 - Rox Anderson, MD
  • 1999 - Bryan Shumaker, MD and Patricia Owens, BSN, MHA, RN, CMLSO, CNOR
  • 2001 -Richard Fitzpatrick, MD and Brian Wong, MD, PhD
  • 2002 - J. Stuart Nelson, MD, PhD and Henry H.L. Chan, MD, PhD, FRCP
  • 2003 - ASLMS members attended the Joint International ASLMS-BMLA-ELA meeting held in Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 2003 - Suzanne Kilmer, MD serves as the first female president of ASLMS
  • 2006 - The first annual Silent Auction for research is held under the leadership of Dr. Roy Geronemus
  • 2008 - Posters become ePosters
  • 2008 - Dieter Manstein, MD, PhD was the first recipient of the Dr. Horace Furumoto Innovations Award
  • 2010 - Dr. Charles Townes, MD was honored by ASLMS on the 50th Anniversary of the Laser
  • Laser Aesthetics Course - from left Gerald Goldberg, MD; Emil Tanghetti, MD; J. Stuart Nelson; MD, PhD; E. Victor Ross, MD
  • 2015 - Under the leadership of President Juanita Anders, PhD, ASLMS Women in Energy-Based Devices was formed
  • 2018 - The ePoster Town Hall is introduced. Top ePosters are selected for oral presentation.
  • The ASLMS logo has seen quite the transformation over the years.
  • 2020 - ASLMS embraces Zoom and launches the Online Learning Center

ASLMS Timeline

Explore highlights and key milestones from over the years and learn how ASLMS developed into the premier worldwide organization in the field of medical laser and energy-based applications.

  • 1981 - 1990: Laying the Groundwork




    1982-william-b-mark-memorial-award aslms-star-divider-line


    • First Standards of Training and Practice document drafted and approved by the Board
    • President Joseph H. Bellina, MD 1982-1983
    • Annual Conference New Orleans, Louisiana; 294 in attendance


    1984-drake-mark aslms-star-divider-line




    • Subscription to the LSM journal is included as a member benefit
    • ASLMS approved by ACCME to grant CME credits
    • President Gezo J. Jako, MD 1985-1986
    • Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts; 966 in attendance


    • ASLMS published first biophysics course book
    • Dr. Carmen Puliafito appointed as LSM Editor
    • President Kenneth A. Arndt, MD 1986-1987
    • Annual Conference in San Francisco, California; 1067 in attendance


    • ASLMS has members from 20 countries
    • President Michael W. Berns, PHD 1987-1988
    • Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas; 1051 in attendance


    1989-session aslms-star-divider-line


    • "Physician Member" category created
    • President Robert H. Ossoff, MD, DMD 1989-1990
    • Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee; 1039 in attendance

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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