Election of US President Joe Biden a Boon to the Focused Ultrasound Community


Biden symposium 2014 researcher

Key Points

  • President Joe Biden’s longstanding commitment to fact-based policy and decision-making, science, and healthcare will help expedite the advancement of focused ultrasound for patients in the US and around the world.
  • The President has elevated the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director to a cabinet-level position for the first time in history. The work of the Foundation fits within the mandate of OSTP, which in part advises the Executive Office on scientific and technological aspects of health.
  • In 2014, then-vice president Biden visited the 4th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound in Bethesda, Maryland; his attendance was a great inspiration to the community.

The focused ultrasound community is encouraged and energized by the recent election of US President Joseph R. Biden who has a long history of supporting fact-based policy and the sciences.

President Elevates OSTP Director to Cabinet
In his first week in office, President Biden set the tone for his administration’s attention to health and science by elevating the position of director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position for the first time in history. This is significant for the focused ultrasound field as our work fits directly within the mandate of OSTP which includes advising the President on the scientific and technological aspects of healthcare. Toward this end, OSTP leads efforts to develop and implement “sound science and technology policies and budgets” while working with the private and philanthropic sectors, state and local governments, research and academic communities, and others – such as the Foundation and its partners.

Also significant is that President Biden chose geneticist Eric Lander, PhD, as his presidential science adviser and OSTP director. The role of OSTP director has typically been occupied by physicists, and the expectation among the focused ultrasound community is that a director such as Dr. Lander with a life sciences background will foster expedited achievement of therapeutic applications, including focused ultrasound.

OSTP to Focus on Clinical Trials for Cancer
In a recent letter sent to Dr. Lander, the President tasked OSTP with addressing five key mandates, the first of which was, “What can we learn from the pandemic… to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?” Significantly, President Biden also advised that OSTP’s answer must include dramatically accelerating “our ability to develop and conduct clinical trials of therapies for other types of diseases like cancer” – a high priority for the focused ultrasound field. Biden also emphasized the importance of open science and patient data accessibility while iterating that “advances in medical science benefit the health of all Americans, including substantially reducing racial and socioeconomic health disparities.”

Role of Focused Ultrasound
A major thrust of the Foundation is to provide life-extending treatment to cancer patients, and focused ultrasound researchers worldwide are making unprecedented progress in this area. In 2016, Dr. Kassell was named to the Blue Ribbon Panel of then-vice president Biden’s popular Cancer Moonshot Initiative; the Foundation’s emphasis on advancing focused ultrasound as a therapeutic modality for cancer is closely aligned with the Panel.

Focused ultrasound is poised to play an important role in furthering some of the goals set forth by the Biden administration. The noninvasive, primarily outpatient treatment has the capability to improve the quality and longevity of life for patients with more than 130 different clinical conditions. More widespread and universal availability of focused ultrasound will also help build better healthcare – improving access and quality while decreasing the cost of care.

We are energized and encouraged by the early steps the Biden administration has taken to emphasize sound science and accessible healthcare, and we look forward to President Biden’s commitment to these concepts expediting the advancement of focused ultrasound, and ultimately the adoption of the technology as a standard of care for millions of people in the US and around the world.