The Foundation is pleased to recognize former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell's pivotal role in advancing the field of focused ultrasound. In January, Howell retired after a 30-year career in the House. He is the second-longest serving speaker in state history.
Howell has long been outspoken about the importance of public funding in advancing innovative medical technologies, and during his time in office, he was a strong advocate for focused ultrasound. He was instrumental in securing state funding to help launch the Focused Ultrasound Center at the University of Virginia in 2009, and he has supported research and education in the subsequent years.
At CES2018, Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD was interviewed by the host of NPR’s Tech Nation, Dr. Moira Gunn, about focused ultrasound therapy and the Foundation’s work. Started in 1993, Tech Nation is a weekly public radio program featuring noted technology and science leaders airing nationwide on more than 200 public radio stations and on SiriusXM. The interview first aired in late January and is continuing to air in the US and around the world.
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Fredericka and Howard Stevenson serve on the Foundation’s Council and are passionate, enthusiastic advocates who help raise awareness of the technology. Fredericka is chair emeritus and cofounder of Summer Search Boston, and Howard has served in various leadership positions at Harvard University and Harvard Business School during the last 47 years. We recently interviewed the pair, who shared why they support the Foundation’s efforts and why focused ultrasound gives them hope.
Foundation founder and chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, spoke with Melanie Crandall, head of content at tech communications firm Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, to discuss why CES 2018 was an ideal venue to showcase focused ultrasound technology and where he thinks the field is headed, particularly in regards to the treatment of essential tremor.
In January, the Foundation’s Director of Operations, Emily White, MD, traveled to San Francisco for JP Morgan Healthcare Week. This annual event is an opportunity to hear talks by thought leaders, survey the trends in healthcare, meet with investors, and help support focused ultrasound manufacturers looking for investment.
Talented local artist, Albert Ernest, Jr., recently contributed three paintings to an art show hosted by Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. The paintings depict rural landscapes using oil and acrylic paint on canvas. A supporter of focused ultrasound and the Foundation’s work, Ernest kindly donated his proceeds from the show to the Foundation. We extend our thanks for his generous gift.
Tim Dobbyn suffered from violent tremors that made it challenging to work, cook, or even drink without spilling. NBC News followed Tim as he underwent focused ultrasound therapy at the University of Maryland Medical Center. A few days after treatment, Tim says his hand is “rock steady.”
A summary developed from the November 2017 Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Workshop is now available on our website. The comprehensive report includes meeting highlights, presentation summaries describing the state of the technology for this application, burning questions, and evidence gaps for future technical, preclinical, and clinical work. Meeting attendees identified critical outcomes and next steps for advancing focused ultrasound–induced opening of the BBB toward clinical adoption.
W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, was recently named the 2018 Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year by the University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group (LVG). This award is given annually to faculty members whose research is making a major impact on society. Elias is the neurosurgeon who led the first clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor, which was organized and funded by the Foundation. He went onto participate in a larger study that resulted in US FDA approval of the procedure.
The February 2018 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery’s“Neurosurgical Focus” provides an in-depth review of brain applications of focused ultrasound. The guest editors are a quartet of neurosurgeons with expertise in transcranial focused ultrasound and functional neurosurgery. Nir Lipsman, MD, W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, Ryder P. Gwinn, MD, and Julie G. Pilitsis, MD, PhD, chose 15 articles that describe both the history and the state of the art for technical and clinical focused ultrasound research.
In addition to the special issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery, several other papers are important to note this month. A clinical trial for neuromodulation of the thalamus was conducted at the University of Minnesota, opening the door for brain mapping with focused ultrasound. Physicians share their clinical experience using focused ultrasound to treat various types of pediatric tumors. Patients with cancer pain may soon benefit from a multi-modality approach developed through an international collaboration.
Profound Medical recently announced that all patients have been enrolled in their prostate cancer trial, TACT (TULSA-PRO® Ablation Clinical Trial). This pivotal study of 110 patients with localized prostate cancer is evaluating the safety and efficacy of their TULSA-PRO device to ablate prostate tissue. The trial involved 13 research sites in the US, Canada, and Europe. All patients will be monitored for 12 months post-treatment before results will be available.
In a partnership facilitated by the Foundation, Insightec has selected Virginia Tech’s Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) as its first nonclinical research site for developing new treatment options for brain disorders. VTCRI scientists will use Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system paired with a Siemens MRI unit to study potential applications for attacking brain tumors, opening the blood-brain barrier to deliver therapeutics, and treating psychiatric disorders using FUS-induced neuromodulation.