Press Releases

Neurosurgeon and Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell Appointed to National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Cancer Moonshot


Charlottesville, VA, – April 4, 2016 – Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, has been selected to serve on the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Blue Ribbon Panel for Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Dr. Kassell joins a group of 28 luminaries in science and medicine who will help the NCI inform the scientific direction and goals of the Initiative.

Neal Kassell“This Blue Ribbon Panel will ensure that, as NIH allocates new resources through the Moonshot, decisions will be grounded in the best science,” said the Vice President in a press release. “I look forward to working with this panel and many others involved with the Moonshot to make unprecedented improvements in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.”

“I am proud to represent the focused ultrasound community on this panel. This early-stage technology is already approved in regions of the world to non-invasively destroy tumors in the kidney, liver, pancreas, and prostate,” says Dr. Kassell, Chairman of the Foundation and Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia. “But, the technology truly has the potential to help meet the goals of the Moonshot by transforming cancer treatment through enhancing immunotherapy and localizing the delivery of chemotherapy to improve efficacy and minimize systemic effects.”

Over the next several months, the panel will consider how to advance the themes that have been proposed for the initiative. The themes include the development of cancer vaccines, highly sensitive approaches to early detection, advances in immunotherapy and combination therapies, single-cell genomic profiling of cancer cells and cells in the tumor microenvironment, enhanced data sharing, and new approaches to the treatment of pediatric cancers.

The panel is co-chaired by:

  • Tyler Jacks, PhD, Chair, National Cancer Advisory Board, and Director, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, Professor and Deputy Director for Translational Research, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Dinah Singer, PhD, Acting Deputy Director and Division of Cancer Biology Director, National Cancer Institute

About Focused Ultrasound
Focused ultrasound uses ultrasonic energy guided by real-time imaging to treat tissue deep in the body without incisions or radiation. Multiple intersecting beams of ultrasound are directed and concentrated on a target; much like a magnifying glass can focus multiple beams of light on a single point. Where each individual beam passes through the tissue, there is no effect. But, at the focal point, the convergence of the beams of focused ultrasound energy results in many important biological effects depending on the nature of the tissue and the ultrasound parameters.

Today, focused ultrasound is approved in the United States to treat uterine fibroids, reduce pain from bone metastases, and treat the prostate. Different systems are approved to treat 16 diseases in regions around the world. The technology is in various stages of research and development for more than 50 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, and tumors of the brain, liver, breast, and pancreas.