Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, is the first pediatric medical center to be named a Focused Ultrasound Foundation Center of Excellence. The site becomes our ninth Center of Excellence worldwide.
The Center will be led by Karun Sharma, MD, PhD, director of interventional radiology and associate director of clinical translation at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at CNH, and AeRang Kim, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and a member of the solid tumor faculty at CNH. In this effort, Drs. Sharma and Kim will work with a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and investigators from radiology, oncology, surgery, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and urology.
“This designation provides a significant level of recognition and legitimacy to the work Children’s National has done with focused ultrasound technology over the years,” says Dr. Sharma. “This will allow our focused ultrasound program to expand and become more cohesive while continuing to uncover additional clinical indications for pediatric patient care.”
In 2015, Children’s National doctors and surgeons became the first in the US to use focused ultrasound to treat pediatric osteoid osteoma, a painful benign bone tumor that commonly occurs in children and young adults. The trial, led by Dr. Sharma, demonstrated early success in establishing the safety and feasibility of noninvasive focused ultrasound in children as an alternative to the current, more invasive approaches to remove tumor tissue. The team also conducted another clinical trial, led by Dr. Kim, to treat relapsed soft tissue tumors such as sarcomas.
Since then, the Children’s National team has built an active clinical trials program and become a leader in translation of focused ultrasound for the treatment of pediatric solid tumors. They are currently investigating the treatment of malignant solid tumors with focused ultrasound alone and combined with chemotherapy.
Following the site’s designation as a Center of Excellence, the team plans to further explore oncological applications of focused ultrasound, particularly to augment chemotherapy and immunotherapy for hard-to-treat pediatric cancers. Furthermore, the Center will leverage the coexistence of its FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation to develop a formal program that is designed to educate policymakers on Capitol Hill and at the FDA, as well as stakeholders in industry, on the importance of developing focused ultrasound technology for pediatrics.
“Focused ultrasound offers a number of important benefits over traditional therapies, which are especially paramount for the pediatric population,” said Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman, Neal F. Kassell, MD. “The team at Children’s National has an exemplary track record in using this technology to pioneer new treatment options for their patients, and we look forward to collaborating and supporting their future research.”
Established in 2009, the Centers of Excellence program brings together the best people and technical resources at luminary sites. The Centers are created through partnerships of academia, industry, and the Foundation to showcase the technology and serve as hubs for collaboration.