2021 Summer Intern Report: Adam Kippenhan & Kathleen Nguyen


Adam Kippenhan
University of Virginia, Class of 2023

Kathleen Nguyen
University of Virginia, Class of 2023

Neuronavigation with Virtual Reality (VR) and Kranion

Adam Kippenhan

Project Overview
Our project was to build on a VR simulation of a focused ultrasound procedure and implement a neuronavigator interface using Kranion, a program used to visualize and plan transcranial focused ultrasound treatments. Our goal was to create an example of a neuronavigator with the ability to do real-time transducer tracking and treatment planning. The basis for a neuronavigator is that instead of conducting a focused ultrasound procedure while in an MRI, a physician can instead use existing, previously collected image data to provide an accurate map of a patient’s skull. This has the potential to make treatments more convenient and less expensive for both physicians and patients – especially for procedures such as blood brain barrier opening with drug delivery and neuromodulation, which often require repeated treatments.

Project Outcomes
We were successfully able to implement the neuronavigator and have the VR simulation communicate with Kranion to accomplish both live transducer position and tilt tracking, as well as treatment planning using treatment targets created from sonications in Kranion.

Kathleen Nguyen

Describe your experience as an intern.
Adam: I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an intern at the Foundation this summer. I especially enjoyed the freedom that our mentors gave us to experiment and navigate challenges, although they were always happy to help if we ran into a problem we could not figure out. I also enjoyed working with the other interns in our small technical intern group and became good friends with them. Not only have we become good friends, but we always enjoy collaborating with each other on engaging challenges.

Kathleen: I surprisingly got a lot of freedom and responsibility as an intern which was enjoyable because I could work at my own pace and discretion. I also had a lot of reliable peers who could help me whenever I got stuck.

What was the most important learning point of your internship experience?
Adam: The most important learning point of my internship experience was being able to work in a team on a real-world software development project. I learned many new concepts of computer science and software development as well as the fascinating and rapidly advancing technology that is focused ultrasound.

Kathleen: Learning how to use C# (a compiled computer programming language related to C++) was one of the highest learning points because it is a language that is so different, and I had no experience in it before. It was a complicated language that took a while to get used to.

How will your accomplishments impact the field of focused ultrasound?
Adam: A neuronavigation system in the context of focused ultrasound treatments, like the one we created in this project, has the ability to make focused ultrasound more accessible to patients and physicians by making it more convenient, efficient, and cost effective.

What is one tip that you would give 2022 summer interns?
Kathleen: It’s important to take initiative. Don’t wait for instructions to come as soon as you finish a task. Always think about what to do next.