Five years in the making, the first of several “Centers of Excellence” planned by the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation was dedicated at the University of Virginia on September 14. Its mission: to become a leader in translational (or applied) and clinical research, training, and patient care, employing MR-guided Focused Ultrasound.
The UVA Center – and others like it still to be created – will play a central role in spurring the development of this new and promising technology.
“The mission of the Foundation is to develop new applications and to accelerate the worldwide adoption of focused ultrasound,” stated Neal F. Kassell, MD, chairman and founder of the Foundation. “Through Centers of Excellence we can make this happen sooner – and thereby reduce the death, disability, and suffering of untold numbers of patients.”
Dr. Kassell, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia, has championed the focused ultrasound technology ever since realizing its importance in 2004. He created the Foundation in 2006. To expand the technology’s global footprint, the Foundation is reviewing potential sites for other Centers of Excellence in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Each of these Centers will feature state-of-the-art equipment and research facilities. They will be multidisciplinary and interdepartmental, and will engage collaboratively with one other. Most importantly, the Centers will share a commitment to rapidly bringing the fruits of their focused ultrasound research to bear on treating patients.
The new UVA Center will soon start to provide treatment for women with uterine fibroids – the first application of the technology to receive FDA approval.
In the future, the Center will also conduct clinical trials on uterine fibroids and fertility; Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy; liver, brain, breast, and prostate tumors; and pain from bony metastases.
The far-ranging program will bring together UVA clinicians and scientists from a number of disciplines. Among these are biomedical engineering, neurosurgery, surgery, radiology, cardiology, radiation oncology, neurology, urology, and gynecology.
It took some $8 million to get the Center up and running. Of this, $3.1 million was committed by the Foundation, and $4 million by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The other partners, who made in-kind contributions, were InSightec, manufacturer of the ultrasound equipment being used, and GE Healthcare, which makes the MR-imaging equipment.
Best-selling author John Grisham speaks for his colleagues on the Board of Directors in acknowledging all those who had a part in creating the UVA Center.
“I want to express our thanks to the many individuals and organizations who have contributed their energy, ideas, and generous financial support,“ said Grisham. “UVA’s Center will play a major role in helping Focused Ultrasound fulfill its potential for improving the lives of millions.”