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.
Our robust scientific program consisted of more than one hundred and seventy presentations and posters – an increase of over 50 percent from our 2010 symposium.
The symposium's key take-away messages were:
- Focused ultrasound has never been more promising. The technology, the science and the commercialization of focused ultrasound is marching forward at an accelerating rate. As a platform technology, focused ultrasound has multiple mechanisms of action, and there has been tremendous progress in understanding these mechanisms and how to use them to treat a growing number of diseases and conditions.
- We're at risk of hitting a brick wall because of public policy issues. The public policy issues that are confronting the field of focused ultrasound include regulatory, research, funding, reimbursement, intellectual property ownership and tax codes. Symposium keynote speakers, Dean Kamen and U.S. Senator Mark Warner, urged the focused ultrasound community to become engaged – to raise our voices – regarding in these issues. This is a call to action for all of us. Engaging in these issues has become essential to delivering new focused ultrasound treatments to patients.
- Federal funding for medical research is likely to decrease in the current economic environment. For the foreseeable future, we will be operating in an environment that is different than what's been in place for the last 10-20 years, a period during which the NIH budget increased seven percent annually. Moving forward, a decrease in federal funding for medical research is extremely possible. Because of current economic realities, the focused ultrasound community needs to find ways to work smarter, to be more efficient and to better utilize federal funding resources. We must collaborate more. Increased collaboration is the ultimate force multiplier for intellectual capital and is the primary stimulant for innovation.
During the weeks and months ahead, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation will keep you informed about our activities and key developments in these three important areas. Working together, we can continue to accelerate the advancement of focused ultrasound therapies and ensure that this revolutionary technology is widely available to patients in the shor time possible.
Neal F. Kassell, MD, Chairman
Focused Ultrasound Foundation