During a Foundation Board of Directors meeting, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach was impressed with the level and scope of projects completed by students in the Summer Internship Program and suggested that the successful endeavor should be extended worldwide. Therefore, this summer, twelve high school and undergraduate university students interested in the physical and life sciences were selected to participate in the first Global Internship Program, and each was matched with an academic researcher or industry mentor at a recognized international site.
Seven of the twelve students who completed the requirements submitted abstracts for the 2014 Symposium and will present their work during the poster session. One project, submitted by Institute of Cancer Research intern Jemma Brown, was awarded travel support as the best student abstract of 2014.
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The Foundation has recruited Mike Cashman as Co-Director of Development. Mike joins Pamela Minetti to expand the development effort and take the Foundation’s unique venture philanthropy model to new supporters, increase the reach of our message, and create novel partnerships with like-minded organizations. The addition of this position will further the Foundation’s efforts to accelerate the development of new applications of focused ultrasound and its widespread adoption as a standard of care.Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike was the Commanding Officer of the University of Virginia Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and Professor of Naval Science, teaching leadership and ethics. He recently retired as a Captain with almost 29 years of service. “I am excited to join Pamela, Neal, and the team. I have seen how life-changing this technology is, and I can envision a day when it is a commonly accepted, noninvasive way to treat patients,” Mike said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will be widely available to improve, and potentially save, countless lives.”Neal F. Kassell, MD, Founder and Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation added, “Mike will bring his proven ability to forge strong relationships built on trust to spread the message about focused ultrasound to those who have not heard it, especially those who have the capacity to really make a difference. He has a burning desire to help advance this technology in a tangible way and will be a great ambassador for our team.”Captain Cashman served as a helicopter pilot and commanded several squadrons all over the world, most notably the navy’s largest aviation wing located in Norfolk, Virginia. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maine and has earned two Master’s Degrees: one in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College and one in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Neal F. Kassell, MD, Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, authored two recent articles on the future of the technology and what it might mean for the healthcare paradigm.
The receipt of a significant gift from Dr. Richard Merkin has allowed the Foundation to create a unique fellowship opportunity for international researchers. Applications are now being accepted. For information on the application process, contact Matt Eames, PhD, Director of Extramural Research, .
FORTUNE has published two fantastic articles about the potential of focused ultrasound.
A group of 24 researchers from 14 organizations met March 3-4 in Charlottesville to inventory the current state of the field, identify important applications, and chart a course for the first clinical use of FUS–induced neuromodulation. Participants represented academia, industry, government, and the Foundation.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (May 13, 2014) – Carl Zeithaml, Dean of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “I love innovation and big, ambitious ideas that are designed to help people and make the world a significantly better place,” said Dean Zeithaml. “The efforts of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation certainly qualify on all dimensions. Based on results to date, the potential is enormous. I am very excited to lend my time and expertise and to connect the Foundation with my network to spread interest in their visionary work.”
“We are honored to welcome Dean Zeithaml to our Board of Directors,” said Neal F. Kassell, M.D., chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “With his expertise in healthcare and global strategic management, he will provide invaluable insight as the Foundation works to advance focused ultrasound therapies in the U.S. and around the globe.”
Lian Zhang, MD, gastroenterologist with the Clinical Center for Tumor Therapy, Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing University of Medical Sciences, met with Alan Matsumoto, MD, Co-Director of the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center.Dr. Zhang is a leading clinician in the field, having been involved with focused ultrasound for more than 10 years. Chongqing Haifu’s focused ultrasound system is currently approved in China and Europe to treat uterine fibroids, breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, soft tissue tumors, and pain control for pancreatic cancer and bone metastases. The technology is quite established for uterine fibroids, with more than 100 Chongqing Haifu systems in OB/GYN offices around China.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner vowed that he would go back to the Capital recharged to advocate for focused ultrasound after touring the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation on March 19.
The Foundation’s Council is now under increased “surveillance” with the addition of retired Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers Jonna and Tony Mendez. Together the couple has more than 50 years of service to the United States, and both are decorated heroes. Tony is also an author and award-winning painter; Jonna is a fine art photographer, a consultant/lecturer, and an author. ARGO, one of Tony’s autobiographical books, became an Academy Award-winning movie.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation has published its January 2014 Focused Ultrasound Global Perspective report, a comprehensive overview of the state of the technology, including facts and figures on approved indications, manufacturers, research centers, and treatment sites. This report will serve as a trusted resource for academia, government, industry, and investors, enabling them to monitor progress in the field and guide decision making.The report is now available on our website. An update will be produced every six months, identifying significant research and commercialization trends for the technology.
A major milestone in the evolution of the field of focused ultrasound has been achieved. The first treatment in a 20-patient pilot study assessing the feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy of MR-guided focused ultrasound for dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease was successfully performed in Korea. This groundbreaking study is being funded in partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation lost a dear friend, ardent supporter, and charter Council Member with the death of Edgar M. Bronfman on December 21, 2013. In addition to his philanthropic support, Mr. Bronfman generously supported the Foundation with his time and his extensive and brilliant business acumen. He will be dearly missed.
The Foundation’s External Research Awards Program has approved two new proposals for funding. One project is from the high-risk track, and the other is from the clinical indication track.
The high-risk project is led by Zhen Xu, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan and will study the use of the mechanical effects of focused ultrasound to break up the blood clots that cause deep vein thrombosis. The clinical indication project is a pilot study in pediatric osteoid osteoma led by Michael Temple, M.D., at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.
The Philanthropy Journal, an online site that publishes news on fundraising, innovation, and technology in the philanthropic community, recently featured an article by the Foundation on our model to accelerate adoption of medical technology.
Results of a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) suggest MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) may offer a safe, noninvasive treatment option for breast cancer.
The Foundation’s patient advocacy program, Fibroid Relief, has been garnering nationwide media coverage of a newly published survey that found that uterine fibroids cause significant fear and morbidity and can compromise workplace performance. It also found that women prefer treatment options that are not invasive and protect fertility (like focused ultrasound).
The Foundation is pleased to announce that Ellen H. Block has joined our Council. Members of the Foundation Council serve as goodwill ambassadors, advance our message, and connect us to other people who should hear our story. Ellen is a registered occupational therapist, small business owner, and an active philanthropist from Palm Beach, Florida. She is engaged in a wide range of societal and community-related issues locally, nationally, and globally.
The Foundation is now seeking applicants for the Richard Merkin Visiting Fellowship in Focused Ultrasound, created by Richard Merkin, MD, to foster collaboration between the Foundation and other institutions .
The Fellowship in Focused Ultrasound is open to any mid-career or senior scientist or clinician from industry or academia around the world to work with the technical and scientific team at the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia for about 12 months. The position will foster collaboration between the Foundation, the Fellow's home institution, and other institutions and will be paid through an annualized stipend of $150,000.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the Kinetics Foundation organized a workshop in September to discuss the state of the technology, current challenges, and future research directions for using focused ultrasound to reversibly open the blood-brain barrier to allow the delivery of drugs directly to the brain for treatment of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other central nervous system disorders.
Feng Wu, MD, PhD, has been selected as Honorary President of the 4th International Symposium on Current and Future Applications of Focused Ultrasound to be held October 12-16, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland.
Wu has been a steadfast champion of focused ultrasound for more than 25 years. To date, his teams in China have treated more than 50,000 tumor patients, the largest population of focused ultrasound-treated patients in the world. Now living in England, Wu is a Focused Ultrasound Consultant and Senior Clinical Scientist at Oxford University. He is a leading researcher in the field, having published more than 200 papers. In 2013, he was awarded the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound’s William and Francis Fry Award for his outstanding contributions to the field.
Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Royal Philips, The Institute of Cancer Research, and The Royal Marsden collaborate in centre to accelerate progress and establish global standards for focused ultrasound treatment ̶ enhancing patient care around the world
LONDON – September 5, 2013 – The Focused Ultrasound Foundation and Philips have entered into an innovative public-private collaboration with The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The partnership will create a focal point for ultrasound therapy research at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden in London under the international Focused Ultrasound Foundation Centers of Excellence Program.
The New England Journal of Medicine published the promising results of a pilot trial on the use of transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound to treat patients with essential tremor (ET).
The results indicate that focused ultrasound can safely and effectively treat targeted areas deep in the brain. The study included 15 patients with essential tremor that could not be managed by medication who underwent a completely noninvasive unilateral thalamotomy using an investigational focused ultrasound device. The study was led by W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, (shown above with the ET patients) neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia, and funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
Craig H. Meyer, PhD has received a $100,000 Research Award from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to develop a new real-time method for performing three-dimensional MR temperature mapping, a technique that could have a major impact on the safety, efficacy and procedural efficiency of focused ultrasound treatments.
“MR temperature mapping is an integral element of MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery. However, acquisition of the MR images required for calculating a temperature map is time consuming. At present, it is not possible using conventional non-accelerated MR techniques to acquire and reconstruct 3D temperature maps in real time,” explains Meyer, an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology at the University of Virginia.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (June 20, 2013) – The Focused Ultrasound Foundation has hired Pamela Minetti as Director of Development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Minetti was a leading member of the financial services and technology practices at Boyden Global Executive Search in New York.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation was recently awarded a $600,000 grant by The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to help fund a pilot study of focused ultrasound for the treatment of dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease. The study will investigate the feasibility, safety and preliminary effectiveness of focused ultrasound as a non-invasive method to destroy a small volume of targeted tissue in the brain to improve motor symptoms and reduce the involuntary movements (dyskinesia) faced by Parkinson’s patients.
On May 6, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation hosted an awareness-building event near its headquarters in Charlottesville. Attendees included the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Council and staff as well as focused ultrasound clinicians, researchers, patients, donors and supporters.
The 15 patients who enrolled in the Focused Ultrasound Foundation-funded essential tremor (ET) study at the University of Virginia are true medical pioneers. Prior to their focused ultrasound treatment, most had lived with ET for decades. All had become severely disabled by it. Each believed they had run out of viable treatment options until learning about the promise and possibilities of focused ultrasound. Bravely stepping forward to join the study, each identified three outcomes they wanted to experience.
Robert C. Khayat, JD, LLM, served as the 15th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, from 1995 until 2009. Under Khayat’s leadership, the University was named 23rd among the nation’s public universities, and was ranked in the top ten places to work in higher education. Khayat was also a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law and President of the NCAA Foundation.
The growing field of therapeutic ultrasound welcomes its first open access journal
Open access publisher BioMed Central is proud to announce the launch of Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound in partnership with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound.
Therapeutic ultrasound is a fast growing field and all parties involved believe that having a dedicated open access journal in this area can only speed up the development and eventual adoption of this important clinical tool by the wider medical community.
Focused ultrasound has the potential to be an alternative or complement for radiation therapy, the means to dissolve blood clots, and a way to deliver drugs in extremely high concentrations to a precise point in the body. It has the potential to treat a variety of serious medical disorders, including cancer, uterine fibroids, essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and neuropathic pain.
“Focused ultrasound technology has enormous potential to improve the quality of lives for millions around the world,” noted Neal F. Kassell, M.D., Chairman and Founder of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “The research reported in the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound will be central to advancing the field and will help accelerate the progress of focused ultrasound towards clinical adoption.”
Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound encompasses all aspects of therapeutic ultrasound, namely, the stimulus, inhibition, or modification of tissue function or structure via insonification. Led by Editors-in-Chief Arik Hananel, Focused Ultrasound Foundation, USA and Robert Muratore, Quantum Now LLC, USA, with an international editorial board consisting of the best in the field of focused ultrasound, this open access, peer-reviewed, online journal focuses mainly on translational and clinical research.
Deborah Kahn, BioMed Central’s Publishing Director said, "We’re very pleased to welcome the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound as new publishing partners to BioMed Central, and we share their excitement in launching the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound within our growing list of society journals."
The launch edition includes two research articles. One looks at the impact of vaporized nanoemulsions on ultrasound-mediated ablation. If these results can be replicated in the clinic, microbubbles could improve the efficiency of high intensity ultrasound treatment of solid tumors. An editorial on ‘The Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound - broadening knowledge in a rapidly growing field’ by Editors-in-Chief Arik Hananel and Robert Muratore, is also featured.
All Article-Processing Charges (APC) for the journal are currently covered by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
Media ContactRebecca FairbairnPublic Relations Manager, BioMed CentralTel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2433Mob: +44 (0) 7825 257423Email:
Faster Cures interviewed the Focused Ultrasound Foundation's Scientific Director Jessica Foley, PhD at last year’s Celebration of Science. Want to know what Jessica envisions for future generations of scientists and researchers and the challenges they may face with today’s economic shortcomings?
Dean Kamen, an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and advocate for science and technology, has joined the Foundation Council. As a keynote speaker during the Foundation’s 3rdInternational Symposium in October 2012, Kamen described focused ultrasound as “an amazing technology” and stressed the importance of advocacy in moving the field forward.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation lost one of its most dedicated and passionate supporters in January 2013 when Cornelia Keller died from the consequences of a decades-long battle with multiple brain and spinal cord tumors. Widely recognized as a human rights activist, philanthropist, conservationist, historic preservationist, loving mother and devoted friend, Neil was also the founding donor of the Foundation's Brain Program. Her particular interest was in developing focused ultrasound as a noninvasive treatment for brain tumors.
On February 1, 2013, Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD briefed members of the Allied Health Caucus, a bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers who meet weekly to discuss health issues. Kassell opened his remarks with an overview of focused ultrasound technology and of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. He then provided a status report for the University of Virginia (UVA) Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence, a facility funded by a public/private partnership involving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Foundation, UVA and device-maker InSightec Ltd.
Disbursements from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation's Research Awards Program passed the $3 million mark this month with the selection of two new funding recipients. (See chart for details.)
Since its launch in September 2007, the Research Awards program has become a major and increasingly competitive source of financial support for pioneering focused ultrasound studies. To date, the program has provided nearly $3.2 million in funding to 31 projects exploring applications ranging from uterine fibroids, pelvic disease and knee osteoarthritis to cancers of the brain, breast, head, liver, neck and prostate.
Colleagues in the focused ultrasound community are grieving the loss of George A. Holland, MD, a leading American interventional radiologist who was an expert in magnetic resonance imaging and minimally invasive treatment of solid organ tumors. As Director of MRI at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, Holland helped pioneer the use of focused ultrasound in treating uterine fibroids and was the first to manually interleave treatment spots, a technique that is now a standard of care.
At the time of his death on January 1, 2013, Holland was Director of Cardiovascular Radiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, where he had worked since 2009. Active in professional organizations, he served as chair of the Steering Committee for the Interventional Oncologic Registry and was on the Interventional Oncology Task Force of the Society for Interventional Radiology’s research committee.
Holland received a B.S. in neuroscience from Colgate University and earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency and fellowship training.
Written by Ellen C., McKenna
Motohiro Kawasaki, MD, PhD and his colleagues at Kochi Medical School in Japan have received $100,000 from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Research Awards Program to study the safety and effectiveness of MR-guided focused ultrasound in alleviating pain and improving mobility for elderly patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA).
According to Kawasaki, knee OA is one of the most common disabling arthritic conditions in the elderly. While surgery and a continuum of non-surgical treatments are available – physical therapy, medication, and injections – some patients continue to live with severe pain and disability because surgery is too risky or too frightening and because other treatments do not work for them.
By all standards, the 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound was a success. Attendees included more than 350 people from 25 countries (40% from outside the US). They came from academia, industry, the NIH and FDA and included clinicians, scientists and philanthropists.
Since January 2012, $5 million in new commitments have been contributed to the Foundation. These contributions include leadership gifts of $1 million or more from the Robertson Foundation and two anonymous donors. The total amount contributed since the Foundation's inception in 2006 is nearly $40 million.
These funds are being invested in high-potential research projects and programs and are helping to fill the funding gap between early-stage research and commercialization. This gap, sometimes called "the valley of death," can cause life-saving ideas like focused ultrasound technology to languish.
Forbes Magazine called him a “$1 billion fund-raiser,” an apt moniker for Howard Stevenson, Sarofim-Rock Baker Professor Emeritus and former Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business School, Director of Publishing and Chair of the board for Harvard Business Publishing Company and Vice-Provost of Harvard University.
Having earned his MBA and Doctoral degrees at Harvard Business School, he built the school’s entrepreneurial management program, leveraging experience gained through involvement with a number of public and privately held companies and during the last 35 years in various leadership positions at Harvard.
Emily McDuffie has joined the Focused Ultrasound Foundation as Development Associate and is supporting fundraising efforts and invitational events for donors. Prior to joining the Foundation, McDuffie spent six years in program management and development for Children, Incorporated, a non-profit child sponsorship organization. She is a 2006 graduate of Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.
Jessica Foley, PhD, has joined the Focused Ultrasound Foundation as Scientific Director. She is returning to the focused ultrasound community after completing a one-year American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC. Prior to that, she spent three years working for InSightec as Neuro Projects Manager and Clinical Marketing Manager.
Two internationally renowned clinical experts have joined the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Movement Disorders Steering Committee, the advisory group that is guiding focused ultrasound research related to Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and other movement disorders.
Graham Rolph, California Polytechnic State University, Class of 2016Major: Aeronautical EngineeringSummer project: Install a Picture Archiving and Communications System; co-register MR and CT data with the National Cancer Institute
“Being able to see the cutting edge of the medical science was what excited me about being a summer intern at the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.”
Matthew Hantzmon, Northwestern University, Class of 2015Major: Chemical EngineeringSummer project: Finding the most accurate calculation for lesion volume
“Prior to this summer, I was interested in finding an internship where I would be able to apply what I had previously been learning in my engineering classes at school. I wanted to be able to see examples of what type of careers similar engineers actually have. I was also very excited about the ability to work with other engineers who had somewhat different education backgrounds."
Alisha Geldert, University of Virginia, Class of 2015Major: Biomedical engineeringProject: Develop an adaptive model to predict temperature elevation of brain tissue based on skull parameters
“As I began learning about focused ultrasound and its uses, I became fascinated by its potential to change the nature of surgery and other healthcare procedures. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the technology and contribute to its development, as well as help the Foundation in its mission to promote and accelerate the adoption of focused ultrasound. I found that this internship would give me a good taste of both engineering and medical research.”
Richard (JT) Booth, Harvey Mudd College, Class of 2015Major: Computer Science/EngineeringSummer project: Determine a measure for how well a skull resists being heated by the FUS brain system
“FUSF provided an opportunity to work on a nearly open research question and apply what I've learned already in a problem-solving environment.”
Yiqi Cao, University of Virginia, Class of 2015Major: Biomedical EngineeringSummer project: Investigating the potential of sonodynamic therapy
“I was interested in working with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation because of its unique business model that sits at the nexus of scientific research and clinical application. As an engineering student, I am passionate about not only technology but also the responsible and effective integration of it in society. Therefore, I am interested in translational medicine to help produce tangible benefits for patients in the clinical setting.”
On July 23 and 24, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Brain Program hosted its first invitational mini-workshop to tackle important imaging problems with the help of a world-class team of MR experts from academia and industry. This workshop was a highly successful collaborative problem-solving session that generated solutions for improving the efficiency and safety of transcranial focused ultrasound treatments.
Matt Eames, PhD to succeed Hannah Edelen, JD
Matt Eames, PhD, Brain Program senior project engineer, is stepping in to lead the Research Awards Program succeeding Hannah Edelen, JD, who is leaving the Focused Ultrasound Foundation at the end of July. Eames will assume a new title, Director of Extramural Research, to encompass his accountabilities for research awards and for the Brain Program research he will continue doing. Eames will oversee the research awards funding cycle set to begin with the August 2 submission deadline for full proposals. He will also organize the next quarterly meeting of the Program Funding Committee which will select new research award recipients.
Researcher interest in the 3rd International Symposium Focused Ultrasound has reached unprecedented levels, reports Neal Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “We’ve received 50 percent more abstracts than in previous years,” he says. “Young Investigator applications have nearly quadrupled since the 2nd International Symposium in 2010.”
The Face-time column in a recent issue of the AANS Neurosurgeon featured an interview with Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. Conducted by Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia, the interview touched upon Kassell’s career in neurosurgery, his business pursuits and his commitment to advancing focused ultrasound technology. READ STORY
In an in-depth interview, Todd Mainprize, MD discussed MR-guided focused ultrasound and his efforts to use this exciting technology in treating brain tumors. Mainprize is a neurosurgeon at Sunnybrook
Hospital in Toronto and is a Surgeon Scientist affiliated with The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre. READ STORY
In a recent email, Sherilyn Conn of Arlington, Texas wrote: “As a perfectly healthy female, who found it necessary to retire as media director of a major Texas school district because of essential tremor, I am thrilled every time I read of the progress of Focused Ultrasound Surgery through the work of its foundation. I watch and pray in hope of what this will mean to my sons, one whom now exhibits the beginning systems of ET, and for my young grandsons, who may face these problems in their adult years knowing there is a solution! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your newsletters. They literally thrill my soul!”
Foundation-funded brain research is featured at ISTU meeting
Data from a pilot clinical trial and three preclinical studies – all funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Brain Program – were presented at the June 10-13, 2012 meeting of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound. In addition, the Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Director Arik Hananel, MD presented an overview on the foundation activities, programs and vision during the meeting’s “Shaping the Future of MR-guided focused ultrasound” session. Hananel also participated in a lively debate on the topic: Will MRgFUS ever be widely used?
The Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation Council has added a new member, Dr. Aaron Stern, who was trained as a physician and educator. Dr. Stern accomplished his psychiatric training at Yale University and his training in Psychoanalytic Medicine at Columbia University where he attained professorial rank and was appointed a Training Analyst. He served as a member of the Committee on Professional Education of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Stern also received a PhD from Columbia University where he focused his work upon the methodology of science and empirical studies of child development.
Matt Eames, PhD, senior project engineer for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation's Brain Program, filed this report from Heidelberg, Germany where he is attending the annual conference of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU):
Sonothrombolysis was a featured topic at the Sunday, June 10 session. Clot lysis research funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation was presented by Stephen Monteith, MD of the University of Virginia. Monteith, who uses the InSightec ExAblate system, described his success lysing blood clots in an in-vitro experimental setup and how this led to a pre-clinical trial involving the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in pigs. Dr. Monteith went on to present preliminary results from the lysis of ICH blood clots in a human cadaveric model.
Also of note was a persuasive argument from Dr. Bill Culp of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to move towards clinical trials for ischemic stroke. There was also a presentation from Cerevast on their upcoming Phase III clinical trial for a battery-powered, unfocused ultrasonic head transducer to enhance tPA delivery and/or provide more expedient, ambulance-based treatment to stroke patients. More information on this study may be found on ClinicalTrials.gov.
The Foundation recently received a $1 million unrestricted gift from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous and hopes others will also get involved.
"I am inspired by the impact being made by the Foundation and am delighted that my gift has the potential to improve life for millions of people," the donor said. "Focused ultrasound represents a revolution in noninvasive medicine, and I encourage others to join me in helping accelerate the Foundation's momentum."
If you are interested in supporting the Foundation, contact Kimberly Skelly at 434-326-9830 or
Billy R. Williams is proud to be the first patient in the world to receive focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor. A year after his procedure, which marked the beginning of the ground-breaking pilot clinical trial at the University of Virginia, he reports being "very, very happy" with treatment results. In a video interview, Williams and UVA neurological physical therapist Diane Huss, PhD, say that some tremor has returned but is being managed by a small and well-tolerated drug dose.
A special gathering hosted by the Foundation in April honored the 15 patients treated last year during the essential tremor clinical trial at the University of Virginia. Dubbed the "First 15," the celebratory event was attended by patients, their families and friends, by members of UVA's neurosurgical clinical team, and by Foundation staff, directors and donors. To commemorate the event, patients received individually numbered t-shirts and a book inscribed by best-selling author and Foundation board member John Grisham. Representatives of the public/private partners that created UVA's Focused Ultrasound Center – the site of the study – addressed the group: Jeff Elias, MD and Diane Huss, PhD of UVA; Neal Kassell, MD of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation; William Howell, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates; and Eyal Zadicario of InSightec. Catherine S. Rice, Executive Director of the International Essential Tremor Foundation, also spoke.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (May 22, 2012) – Edward D. Miller, MD, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, a $6.5 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the nation’s premier health care systems, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Dr. Miller is also dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves as the university’s vice president for medicine.
“We are honored to welcome Dr. Miller to our Board of Directors,” said Neal F. Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. “The perspective, insights and experience he offers as CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious and successful healthcare systems will be invaluable in helping the Foundation advance focused ultrasound therapies into mainstream clinical use.”
AANS Neurosurgeon, Volume 21, Number 2, 2012
In this interview, which was conducted by University of Virginia neurosurgeon Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, FAANS, Dr. Kassell describes his career accomplishments, including the founding of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
Our annual progress report on the activities of the Foundation and the advancing field of focused ultrasound has been released.
While many cases of ET are mild, according to Neal Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, some patients suffer severely ... http://www.agingwellmag.com/news/ex_040312.shtml
Kobi Vortman, PhD:
“In Honor to David I would like to add my impressions from interacting with David. David had a very unique approach to analyzing problems and building a logical concept to contain and resolve issues. When we first met and I had the honor to give him a briefing on MR guided focused ultrasound it was my first experience with the way David functioned: at some point in time he decided that MRgFUS makes sense and could help sick people, then he turned his attention to what could accelerate the transformation of this technology from vision to lab and to the patient bedside. It started with the FUSF but didn’t stop there. What was unique to David is his willingness to get involved and push the barriers personally to shorten time.
Executive Perspective: Falko Busse, PhD, Philips Healthcare
Asian markets are leading the adoption of focused ultrasound, reports Falko Busse, PhD, vice president and general manager of MR-HIFU for Philips Healthcare.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, March 7, 2012 -- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation announced today that medical research activist, philanthropist and financier Michael Milken has joined its Council, a select group of advisors and advocates who are helping to advance the organization’s mission. A champion of medical innovations since the 1970’s, Milken will support the Foundation in accelerating the development and adoption of focused ultrasound therapies for many of today’s most devastating illnesses.
Remarkably successful in the world of finance, Focused Ultrasound Foundation board member David B. Heller is President of Advisory Research Inc., a Chicago-based securities firm that he founded in 1974. ARI, which manages $5.2 billion in assets for individual and institutional investors, specializes in value investing. Simply put, this approach is based on the ability to recognize the potential or true value of an asset long before others do.
Fortunately for the Foundation, Heller’s interest in areas of high potential extends beyond his professional life. Several years ago, he and his wife, Diane, met Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD at the University of Virginia where their daughter was being treated for a recurring benign brain tumor. At the time, the Hellers were frustrated by the lack of treatment options available to their daughter. When Kassell described the nascent, noninvasive medical technology called focused ultrasound, the Hellers quickly recognized its potential.
During a 2-minute interview with Sany Hausman of Virginia Public Radio, FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD provided an update on focused ultrasound development and research activities at the University of Virginia and at sites around the world. He noted that the technology has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of unterine fibroids, but that insurance companies have yet to routinely cover focused ultrasound treatments.
Click here to listen to the interview:
Researcher interview: Urvi Vyas, PhD, Stanford University
A highlight of the FUS Foundation’s 2010 International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound was the presence of our Young Investigators, ten early-career scientists selected to present their work during oral or poster sessions. The spirit and enthusiasm of these individuals provided a special spark that energized the entire symposium.
During a recent interview, one of those Young Investigators – Urvi Vyas, PhD – provided an update on her focused ultrasound activities. The excitement and positive expectancy with which she spoke were truly inspirational.
Vyas, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, earned her PhD in bioengineering at the University of Utah. Professionally, her main interests are ultrasound beam propagation and MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery. Like many of the unsung heroes in the field of focused ultrasound, she is working behind the scenes to address technical issues and challenges that will make new patient treatments possible.
What is ultrasound beam propagation? Click here to find out.
After completing her undergraduate degree in bioengineering at Shree Govindram Institute of Technology and Science in India, Vyas joined Utah’s bioengineering program where she helped develop an NIH-funded focused ultrasound system for breast cancer. That project enabled her to learn from three individuals she describes as mentors: ultrasound expert Douglas Christensen, PhD,MR leader Dennis Parker, PhD, and biothermal specialist Robert Roemer, PhD.
“I think this is an exciting field because you need so many people to come together to make a system work. You need temperature measurements. You need the ultrasound to work. You need to control the ultrasound. Not only that, you need to control the heating and so you need somebody that knows the bioheat transfer equation,” Vyas observes.
Focused ultrasound system for the breast
In creating a focused ultrasound system for the breast, the Utah team had to break new ground in a number of areas: measuring temperature in the breast, planning patient treatments and designing a transducer. “Where I came in was the ultrasound part of all of this,” says Vyas.
She worked on developing fast simulations for ultrasound beam propagation. “We went from a time scale of a couple of hours to simulate one beam propagation pattern to a few seconds. This was on a grad student laptop, so this was really exciting. Once we had that working, we could then design patient-specific treatment plans. We’d take an MR image of the patient and then design a treatment plan that would fit this particular patient,” she explains.
After helping to reduce treatment planning time, Vyas got involved in designing an ultrasound transducer for the breast. “We designed various configurations and figured out that the side-shooting transducer would work best for the breast,” she says.
Her next task was using fast beam propagation simulation to solve an inverse problem. “In the forward problem, I can simulate where the beam is going to be. I can also do the inverse problem. I can see the temperature and figure out what the tissue properties for this particular person are because it’s very hard to measure acoustic properties of a human being without cutting the human being open,” she says.
Solving the inverse problem lead to a first-time in vivo study in which the Utah team demonstrated that the acoustic properties of muscle could be measured noninvasively with focused ultrasound. This work qualified Vyas for the FUS Foundation’s Young Investigator Award and for an award from the Society for Thermal Medicine.
At Stanford, Vyas is working with Kim Butts Pauly, PhD, a leader in MR thermometry. Her energies are now being directed to correcting trans-cranial phase aberration. “When you put the ultrasound beam through the skull, there are a lot of aberrations because of the skull having different thicknesses,” Vyas explains. “The plan is to use the acoustic radiation force imaging and figure out how to better correct these aberrations in the brain.”
Although the clinical applications of this approach have not yet been determined, Vyas hopes it will be widely useful. “I think what we want to do is give the field a very efficient, fast way of doing phase aberration correction and just share it with everybody,” she says.
Vyas is inspired by the thought of patients benefitting from her work. “When you’re in a lab typing code on a computer, you don’t realize what it may lead to,” she says. Attending the FUS Foundation’s recent Brain Workshop gave her a glimpse of the impact her work could have on patients. There, she heard doctors talking about treatment envelopes based on simulations she helped develop. “These treatments are going to be in clinics really soon, and it’s very exciting,” she exclaims.
The FUS Foundation’s Research Award Program has received a major funding boost from a $1 million commitment recently made by the Robertson Foundation.
“We are delighted and honored to gain the support of the Robertson Foundation and are completely aligned with its targeted, disciplined, results-oriented approach to philanthropy,” says FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD. “This funding will enable us to advance our mission by investing in highly worthy and promising research projects in the field of focused ultrasound.”
A comprehensive and up-to-date list of focused ultrasound sites with links to investigators and projects has been posted on a newly-designed section of the FUS Foundation’s website.
“By making this information available, FUSF aims to increase transparency and foster global collaboration within the research community,” explains Heather Huff-Simonin, MBA, director of Global Business Development.
She invites research sites to review the information posted about their activities and personnel to ensure that it is accurate and complete. Click here to access the new webpage
New FUS Foundation initiative will advance focused ultrasound therapies for liver and pancreatic tumors
To better support patients’ needs and advance the foundation’s mission of accelerating the development and adoption of clinical indications, the FUS Foundation is transitioning the work of its Focal Drug Delivery Program to two other initiatives.
Focused ultrasound is theme of January 2012 Neurosurgical Focus
Selection brings FUS to the attention of the neurosurgical community
Focused ultrasound is the theme of the January 2012 issue of Neurosurgical Focus, a peer-reviewed, online publication produced by the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS) Publishing Group which is the scholarly publication arm of the American Association of Neurosurgeons.
Free to the public, Neurosurgical Focus is considered a state-of-the-art 'textbook chapter' in the field of neurosurgery. “Having focused ultrasound selected as a topic is significant. It indicates that the JNS considers FUS to be a topic that is sufficiently developed and important enough to devote an issue to it,” explains John Snell, PhD, technical director of the FUS Foundation’s Brain Program. “While the recent coverage in TIME Magazine highlighted the technology to a general audience, this issue of Neurosurgical Focus will bring focused ultrasound to the attention of the neurosurgical community. This further underscores that we have turned a corner with the technology.”
The January 2012 Neurological Focus can be accessed at: http://thejns.org/toc/foc/32/1
Ronit Machtinger, MD has completed a FUS Foundation-funded, two-year, part-time fellowship at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BMH) in Boston, MA, USA. Her fellowship mentors were Clare Tempany, MD and Fiona Fennessy, MD.
An Israeli gynecologist, Machtinger will return to Sheba Medical Center next summer, where she will resume her gynecology practice and continue her work in focused ultrasound. In the meantime, she is completing a research fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at BWH and is writing a book chapter with Fennessy about focused ultrasound treatment of uterine fibroids.
In a demonstration of how gripping the technology is and the excitement building behind focused ultrasound, the video posted on the TED site has received over 100,000 views in it's first 5 days of posting.
In addition to watching the video, be sure to check out the commentary below the video on the TED site with lots of great questions and answers between interested viewers and the presenter, Yoav Medan.
TEDMED has released the full presentation given by Yoav Medan on focused ultrasound at TEDMED 2011.
Also, this talk has been released on the TED site as well!
"Can non-invasive surgery ever become the norm? Medan shows how an MR guided, focused ultrasound technique works instead, and its potential for faster recovery times and new cures."
Also, there was a 2 minute follow up question and answer session with Yoav at the end of his talk.
The visibility of focused ultrasound is skyrocketing. TIME Magazine has named it one of the 50 most inspired ideas, innovations and revolutions of 2011. In its coverage, TIME heralds MR-imaging and focused ultrasound "remarkable in their own right"and observes that "something life-changing" emerges when the two are combined.
Patient profile: John WattersonRecently, FUSF Director of Development Kimberly Skelly was delighted to receive the following unsolicited letter:
The FUS Foundation's Center of Excellence Program is preparing to expand. Our next designated site will soon be announced and embody the same multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach and commitment to pushing the R&D envelope as found at our first Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence, which celebrated its second anniversary this month.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Sept. 20, 2011) – The Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS) Foundation has announced the selection of Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD of Imperial College and Saint Mary's Hospital in London as Honorary President of the 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound.
A consultant radiologist, Gedroyc is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the development of noninvasive patient treatments using MR-guided focused ultrasound. Much of Gedroyc's ground-breaking work has involved the treatment of uterine fibroids and abdominal conditions such as pancreatic and liver tumors. He is currently investigating a focused ultrasound application to alleviate the severe back pain associated with facet joint disease.
Gedroyc anticipates that the 2012 symposium will showcase and contribute to the escalating progress of preclinical research and new clinical applications. "I hope that symposium attendees will gain a huge insight into the full range of applications that focused ultrasound can provide to them and, therefore, to their patients," he said.
Click here to view Gedroyc's video announcement about the 2012 symposium.
FUS Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, noted, "We are delighted to have Professor Gedroyc serving as Honorary President. He is a preeminent clinician and thought-leader who has been a driving force in the field of therapeutic ultrasound. We deeply appreciate his accomplishments and applaud the vision and values that have shaped his work."
The 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound will be held October 14- 17, 2012 in Bethesda, MD, USA. Organized by the FUS Foundation, it is a premier event for the worldwide community of scientists, clinicians and others interested in current and future applications of an emerging and highly promising medical technology, MR-guided focused ultrasound.
The symposium's three-day agenda will spotlight leading edge preclinical, translational and clinical research and address issues impacting widespread adoption of MR-guided focused ultrasound therapies. Information about the symposium can be found here.
Driven by the desire to save lives, alleviate suffering and prevent disability, the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation is devoted to advancing one of modern medicine's most promising and game-changing technologies, noninvasive magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (FUS).
Founded in 2006 and based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Foundation is a high-performance, not-for-profit organization with global reach and an entrepreneurial spirit. To accelerate the availability and reimbursement of FUS treatments, the Foundation hosts symposia and thought-leader workshops, funds preclinical and clinical research, supports the establishment of FUS Centers of Excellence, promotes patient awareness and education, and serves as the nexus of a collaborative research network consisting of sites and investigators around the world. The Foundation's work is made possible by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. For complete information, visit www.fusfoundation.org.
WVTF, September 2011
WVTF, a public radio station that serves central, western and south side Virginia, aired this interview with John Watterson, a patient treated in the UVA clinical trial for essential tremor. Scroll to the bottom of the story to play the broadcast.
UVA pioneers a way to stop tremors
The FUS Foundation extends its warmest congratulations to Ted Weschler, a Charlottesville-based entrepreneur and hedge fund manager hired this month by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Weschler will be among the handful of money managers leading the firm when its current chief investment officer, Warren Buffett, retires.
Weschler, 50, is known for going the distance - he is a marathon runner and an extraordinarily successful long-term investor. He has also been a long-term supporter of the FUS Foundation. As the Foundation's Chairman Neal Kassell, MD explains, "Ted Weschler really jump-started the FUS Foundation. I went to him to present the concept back in 2004, and he quickly became our first donor."
Kassell adds, "We are truly excited for Ted and are appreciative of his encouragement and support. We look forward to our continued relationship with him as this next chapter of his career unfolds."
New, noninvasive deep brain treatment for essential tremor will be topic of special event on September 17
Since early 2011, neurosurgical circles around the globe have been abuzz with news about a new, noninvasive treatment for essential tremor that is being pioneered in Charlottesville. Early results show the approach, which requires no incisions and uses sound waves to treat a region deep within the brain, is highly promising. Essential tremor is a progressive neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking of the hands, head, voice and other areas of the body. It affects an estimated 10 million Americans.
CBS Evening News, June 2011
The Foundation was involved in pitching this national news segment, which illuminates the benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound.
Ultrasound replaces scalpel for some tumor opps
Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 2011This story covers a Foundation-funded clinical trial that produced the world’s first MRgFUS treatment of essential tremor, conducted at the University of Virginia.U.Va. uses scalpel-free brain surgery to treat tremor
Richmond Time-Dispatch, June 2011This article is a follow-up with the UVA clinical trial patient, Billy Williams, three months after his MRgFUS treatment for essential tremor.Early results of essential tremor study promising
Community Idea Stations (radio broadcast), March 2011Billy Williams, the patient treated in the world's first MRgFUS essential tremor trial, is interviewed.UVA performs world’s first focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor
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