Governor Northam Visits Foundation to Discuss Global Impact of State’s Investment in Focused Ultrasound
- Published: June 6, 2018
(Charlottesville, Virginia – June 6, 2018) On Tuesday, June 5, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam visited the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and met with the Foundation’s staff as well as with members of the Foundation’s Board and Council, and donors. Virginia House of Delegates Leader David Toscano, representatives from the University of Virginia, and members of the local media were also in attendance.
The governor and his staff listened to a presentation by Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD about the current state of the technology and the significant role that the state has played in research and development. Dr. Kassell discussed how focused ultrasound therapy can be applied to a growing list of medical disorders – more than 100 are under development. Chief Scientific Officer Jessica Foley, PhD, also spoke about the impact of the state’s investment in the technology, which has led to statewide, national, and international research collaborations and has increased Virginia’s profile as top location for medical research.
After the presentation, Governor Northam said, “The reason that I am here to support what Neal and the Foundation are doing is that – whether it’s a glioblastoma or Alzheimer’s – we are on the cusp of finding the cures for a lot of these disorders. And for Neal to bring the technology and bring the talent to Virginia … my point would be, let’s do it here in Virginia. In order to do this, we have to invest.”
“This meeting was a great opportunity to update the governor on the latest developments in focused ultrasound and share what we feel are the next big things happening in the field,” said Dr. Kassell. “With the governor’s background in medicine and his passion for bettering the lives of those in Virginia, it is easy to see how a strong push toward focused ultrasound programs in the Commonwealth is a win-win for everyone.”
In 2009, a Center of Excellence was established at the University of Virginia through a partnership comprising the University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, and device manufacturers. The state has invested more than $11 million in the Center over the past nine years, and more than $12 million in additional funding from the public and private sector has been received.
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About Focused Ultrasound
Focused ultrasound uses ultrasound energy guided by real-time imaging to treat tissue deep in the body without incisions or radiation. Multiple intersecting beams of ultrasound are directed and concentrated on a target; much like a magnifying glass can focus multiple beams of light on a single point. Where each individual beam passes through the tissue, there is no effect. But, at the focal point, the convergence of the beams of focused ultrasound energy results in many important biological effects depending on the nature of the tissue and the ultrasound parameters.
Today, focused ultrasound is approved in the United States to treat essential tremor, uterine fibroids, pain from bone metastases, and the prostate. The technology is in various stages of research and development for more than 100 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, and tumors of the brain, liver, breast, and pancreas.
The University of Virginia (UVA) currently offers commercial focused ultrasound treatments for bone metastases, uterine fibroids, and essential tremor. Research areas at UVA include focused ultrasound therapy for tumors of the brain, breast, thyroid, liver, and skin as well as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, a ground-breaking clinical trial is currently underway at UVA which is exploring focused ultrasound in combination with a cancer immunotherapy drug in patients with metastatic breast cancer.
About the Focused Ultrasound Foundation
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation was created to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide by accelerating the development of this noninvasive technology. The Foundation works to clear the path to global adoption by coordinating and funding research, fostering collaboration, and building awareness among patients and professionals. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that focused ultrasound finds its place as a mainstream therapy for a range of conditions within years, not decades. Since its establishment in 2006, the Foundation has become the largest nongovernmental source of funding for focused ultrasound research. More information can be found at www.fusfoundation.org.