Leadership Profile: David B. Heller and his Wife, Diane, are Steadfast Supporters


Remarkably successful in the world of finance, Focused Ultrasound Foundation board member David B. Heller is President of Advisory Research Inc., a Chicago-based securities firm that he founded in 1974. ARI, which manages $5.2 billion in assets for individual and institutional investors, specializes in value investing. Simply put, this approach is based on the ability to recognize the potential or true value of an asset long before others do.

Fortunately for the Foundation, Heller’s interest in areas of high potential extends beyond his professional life. Several years ago, he and his wife, Diane, met Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD at the University of Virginia where their daughter was being treated for a recurring benign brain tumor. At the time, the Hellers were frustrated by the lack of treatment options available to their daughter. When Kassell described the nascent, noninvasive medical technology called focused ultrasound, the Hellers quickly recognized its potential.

Following the establishment of the Foundation, David Heller readily joined the Board of Directors. He and Diane also made a significant financial commitment through the Diane and David B. Heller Charitable Foundation, which has a long track record of philanthropy with an emphasis on medical research. In January 2012, the Foundation received a new, unrestricted gift of $2 million from the Hellers, bringing their total support to more than $8 million.

“Neal Kassell often says that we are at a magic moment in the development and adoption of focused ultrasound,” Heller explains. “This equates to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an enormous difference in the field of medicine and in the lives of people around the world. Diane and I hope that our support will not only accelerate the development of new therapies, but also inspire others to support the Foundation’s efforts with major gifts.”

Diane Heller adds, “The Foundation’s success precipitated our decision to make this new commitment. We decided to make the gift unrestricted so that it can be used for the Foundation’s infrastructure and administrative costs, clearing the way for other donors who want to fund specific projects or programs.”

Thanking the Hellers, Kassell says, “We applaud the leadership and generosity of David and Diane. They helped us get off to a strong start and to advance our mission in many ways. Their la gift reflects the depth of their steadfast commitment. As a result of their wonderful support, lives are being changed. We are extremely grateful to them for making an important difference.”

According to Kassell, the Hellers’ support also exemplifies how venture philanthropy advances medical research. “The Hellers embody the entrepreneurial spirit of the Foundation and of the pioneering researchers, manufacturers, physicians and others in the focused ultrasound community,” he observes.

Written by Ellen C., McKenna