2021 Summer Intern Report: Isha Bhatia & Leslie Hansen


Isha Bhatia
University of Virginia, Class of 2022

Leslie Hansen
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Isha Bhatia

Sonodynamic Therapy Landscape Analysis

Project Overview
Isha: My project involved extensive research into Sonodynamic Therapy (SDT) as an emerging form of cancer treatment. This procedure is noninvasive and requires more investigation before it becomes an established clinical procedure. I created a landscape analysis about SDT which covered details about the procedure, agents to be used, possible indications it can be used for, and other information about preclinical and clinical studies being done with SDT.

Aside from my main project, I also helped my mentor Lauren Powlovich, MD, update the Foundation’s comprehensive overview documents for glioblastoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, while also conducting outreach to institutions regarding their current focused ultrasound research.

Leslie Hansen

Leslie: This summer I researched SDT and the process needed to achieve FDA regulation. I helped conduct a state-of-affairs of the technology, applications, and current clinical trials. SDT represents a combination of a drug and device which presents a challenge with FDA approval of clinical trials. I researched steps necessary for approval and how current trials were established.

Project Outcomes
Isha: Overall, I was able to gain a lot of insight into studies investigating SDT and the more established photodynamic therapy (PDT). By learning about the limitations associated with PDT, I understood why it is crucial for SDT research to continue at such a fast pace. I also learned how to navigate important research databases and servers such as clinicaltrials.gov and PubMed. Lastly, I learned how to update some of the Foundation’s informational documents and look for points of contact by using Salesforce.

Why were you initially interested in working with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation?
Isha: I was initially interested in working with the Foundation because I wanted to find an opportunity that would challenge me to learn innovative solutions to problems such as cancer. I have always wanted to be a part of something that has a widespread impact that can improve the lives of many; learning about SDT and potentially being involved in SDT research gave me the perfect opportunity to work for something as important as cancer research.

Did you complete your work at the Foundation’s offices or virtually? How do you think your location impacted your experience?
Isha: I worked at the Foundation in a hybrid manner; some weeks were virtual while others I worked in

the office. It was rewarding to work in person, as I got to meet amazing people and make friends with other interns along the way. I gained the experience of working in an office, which I enjoyed!

Has your internship affected your career plans? If so, how?
Isha: Yes, my internship has affected my career plans. Currently, I am on the pre-med track, and I am also interested in business. I learned from my mentor that it is possible to get an MD and pursue an MBA as well, so that is an option that I will consider. Also, I hope to stay involved with cancer/SDT research even while pursuing my career.