Leading French Researcher Joins Foundation as Merkin Fellow


Cyril Lafon 200Starting this month, Cyril Lafon, PhD, joins the Foundation as the 2016-2017 Richard Merkin Visiting Fellow.

Dr. Lafon is the Director of LabTAU, a research laboratory of INSERM – the French National Institutes of Health – located in Lyon. He was selected based on his innovative ideas and proven track record in developing focused ultrasound devices for patient use. “Cyril has a diverse background across several applications,” says Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “His contributions have led to major advances in neurosurgical, cardiovascular, and ophthalmic devices that were invented in France.”

During his 12-month appointment as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia’s Department of Radiation Oncology, Lafon will study ultrasound-induced immunological responses in breast cancer while collaborating with Tim Bullock, PhD, Richard Price, PhD, and Kumari Andarawewa, DVM, MSS, PhD. At the Foundation, he will join the brain technical program scientists to study cranial thermal ablation for essential tremor and brain tumors. “I’m looking forward to supporting the focused ultrasound clinicians at UVA, during this fellowship,” says Lafon. “I also have some ideas for new brain applications while I learn more about immunotherapy.”

Lafon’s arrival follows a successful tenure by Korean scientist Dong-guk Paeng, PhD. “I really enjoyed conducting research with the Foundation staff in a family-like working environment,” Paeng says. “I have learned a lot not just from the research projects but also from the interactions with colleagues who have passion, kindness, willingness, and professionalism and who share one vision for the earliest clinical transition of focused ultrasound technology to save lives as one team under the leadership of the Chairman.”

Dr. Lafon’s wife, Sabine, and their three children have accompanied him to Charlottesville. “I’m excited to share this life experience with my family,” says Lafon. “My daughters, Lison (9) and Sidonie (3), and my son, Emile (7) get to live abroad and speak another language during this fellowship year.”

Along with directing INSERM LabTAU in Lyon, Dr. Lafon co-founded Carthera, the maker of the Sonocloud implanted pulsed focused ultrasound device that opens the blood-brain barrier. He sits on the board of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU), is Vice President of the French Society of Biomedical Engineering (SFGBM), and is Associate Editor for the Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound. We conducted a Q & A with Dr. Lafon to learn more about his focused ultrasound research. READ THE RESEARCHER PROFILE >