TIME Magazine features focused ultrasound as one of this year's 50 best inventions
The visibility of focused ultrasound is skyrocketing. TIME Magazine has named it one of the 50 most inspired ideas, innovations and revolutions of 2011. In its coverage, TIME heralds MR-imaging and focused ultrasound "remarkable in their own right" and observes that "something life-changing" emerges when the two are combined.
The report, which appears in the magazine's November 28, 2011 "Invention Issue," is now available on newsstands throughout the US and can be accessed online by subscribers.
According to FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD, "The recognition in TIME marks a critical inflection point for focused ultrasound therapy. We can finally stop calling it ‘medicine's best kept secret' because the word is getting out."
Kassell believes that when the potential and capabilities of noninvasive focused ultrasound become widely known, a revolution in patient treatment will be inevitable. "Once the medical community understands that focused ultrasound can destroy tumors, dissolve clots, relieve pain and deliver medicines to precise targets without the use of damaging incisions, this remarkable technology will become a standard of care for many of today's most deadly and debilitating conditions."
Surging media interest Coverage in TIME caps off a month of surging media interest. In its October 2011 issue, Medtech Insight ran a 10-page report on the current state and future of image-guided focused ultrasound. That publication, which is targeted to medical technology executives and investment professionals, became interested in focused ultrasound following the presentation by W. Jeffrey Elias, MD at the Congress of Neurological Surgeonson October 3. Elias described the preliminary and highly promising results of the essential tremor clinical trial being funded by the FUS Foundation at the University of Virginia.
More media coverage surrounded the TEDMED 2011 talk given on October 27 by Yoav Medan, PhD of InSightec. Entitled "Is It Still Surgery If You Don't Cut Anything?" the presentation literally wowed the audience, which consisted of nearly 800 leaders and innovators in the fields of medicine, science, business and technology.
The foundation was integrally involved in creating these media opportunities. For us, this excellent, high-profile coverage is a welcomed development. We're committed to transforming focused ultrasound from 'medicine's best kept secret' to one of its most valued and widely applied solutions. The power, reach and influence of the media are a mighty ally in our cause.
Brain Workshop participants map out action plan for 2012-2013
Nearly 80 leading scientists, researchers, public health officials and industry executives from 12 countries and 30 different institutions participated in the FUS Foundation's third invitational Brain Workshop from October 23 to 26.
With 46 presentations on the agenda, this year's workshop provided an in-depth progress report on the status of the Brain Program and the work ahead. As FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD told attendees, "Our primary interest is to rapidly advance the development and adoption of reimbursable applications that either fulfill an unmet clinical need or are significantly better than existing therapies in terms of outcomes, cost and convenience."
In the spotlight at this year's meeting was the essential tremor clinical trial at the University of Virginia. Spawned during the first Brain Workshop in 2009 and funded by the FUS Foundation, the 15-patient pilot study is nearing successful completion. It is considered a shining example of the fast-track progress that can be achieved by multi-disciplinary, collaborative working groups, which are a hallmark of the foundation's Brain Program.
Focused ultrasound researcher, Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, is driven by a desire to help people with brain disorders. As leader of the Neuromodulation Working Group formed by the FUS Foundation's Brain Program, he is collaborating with a multinational, multi-disciplinary team consisting of specialists in neuroscience, physics, biomedical engineering and imaging. Their goal is to determine how pulsed, low-intensity focused ultrasound can be used to assess region-specific brain functions and to modify and control aberrant brain activities.
The Working Group is now concentrating on advancing this approach as a tool for functional brain mapping and ideal target localization. Looking toward the future, Yoo foresees an even bigger use of FUS-mediated neuromodulation – the treatment of neurological conditions that range from epilepsy to psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression and substance abuse.
Donor generosity has fueled Brain Program's progress in developing new patient treatments
The significant progress made by the FUS Foundation's Brain Program since its launch in 2009 serves as testament to the power of private philanthropy and to the ability of nonprofit organizations to speed the development of new and needed patient treatments. Like all of the foundation's initiatives, the Brain Program also reflects the generosity and passionate commitment of our supporters.
The Brain Program came into being after an anonymous donor provided a $1 million gift earmarked for brain research. With this funding, the foundation hired staff, established a program infrastructure, hosted the 1st invitational brain workshop to develop research and development roadmaps for specific indications and began funding crucial research.
This year, a new $2 million challenge gift from FUS Foundation board member David Heller and his wife, Diane, has further fueled the Brain Program's momentum. The Hellers are matching all gifts to brain research on a one-to-one basis. The world's first focused ultrasound treatments for patients with essential tremor were made possible by their generosity and leadership, as well as by other supporters whose gifts were matched by the Hellers.
This month, the foundation received another $1 million anonymous gift to the Brain Program, ensuring that important research planned for 2012 will proceed as scheduled.
"We are extremely grateful for the support of these remarkable and caring individuals,"says FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD. "Their generosity has already offered new hope to patients with essential tremor. In the years ahead, the advancements made possible by their donations will touch and improve the lives of people with brain tumors, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological conditions."
Many in the focused ultrasound community have met and interacted with Joy Polefrone, PhD, during her three and a half years with the FUS Foundation. She was responsible for organizing, launching and leading our patient support initiative, Fibroid Relief.
More recently, Polefrone provided the entrepreneurial energy and leadership needed to launch the foundation's Focal Drug Delivery Program. In that role, she enrolled an international group of core stakeholders and worked with them via conference calls to map out an agenda for moving forward. She also led the planning and organization of an on-site Core Stakeholders Group meeting and of this year's highly successful Focal Drug Delivery Workshop.
In between these major accomplishments, Polefrone served as Secretary of the Scientific Program Committee for the 2nd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound, an event held in October 2010.
On December 1, Polefrone will join Philips Healthcare in Helsinki, Finland as Clinical Marketing Manager MR-HIFU. In her new role, she will be responsible for strengthening Philips' clinical expertise in MR-HIFU and disseminating the aggregated clinical experience to customers and within the company. She will also develop and execute marketing tactics for the Sonalleve MR-HIFU system and provide key clinical expertise in the development of marketing plans, reference sites, a clinical user community, and the product roadmap and requirement specifications for new products.
We are delighted about Polefone's new opportunity with Philips and are glad that she will remain a vital part of the international focused ultrasound community. We appreciate her many contributions to the foundation's work and wish her continued success in all that she does.
Bijan Borah, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, is newest Research Award recipient
Project will compare costs of FUS, UAE and myomectomy in treating uterine fibroids
Bijan Borah, PhD
Bijan Borah, PhD of the Mayo Clinic has become the FUS Foundation's newest Research Award recipient. Borah, who is an Assistant Professor in the Mayo Clinic's College of Medicine and an Associate Consultant in the Division of Healthcare Policy & Research, has received $100K for a research project entitled, "Costs of Uterine Fibroid Treatments Including Focused Ultrasound Surgery."
During the yearlong project, which is expected to start this month, Borah and his colleagues will collaborate with Thomson Reuters. Their goal is to provide much-needed evidence on healthcare cost comparisons of MR-guided focused ultrasound therapy, uterine artery embolization (UAE) and myomectomy for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Study data will be drawn from Thomson Reuters' proprietary database of healthcare claims from approximately 130 large, self-insured American employers, a database that provides a good representation of the insured women in the U.S.
This study will be the first to compare the costs of MR-guided focused ultrasound with other minimally-invasive treatment options using U.S. practice data. If findings indicate that the long-term healthcare costs associated with MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment of uterine fibroids are comparable to or lower than those associated with comparative procedures, Borah believes it could be a game-changer in terms of reimbursement. "Payers/insurers will be incentivized to begin covering MR-guided focused ultrasound for the treatment of uterine fibroids," he says. "Since uterine fibroids are the first FDA-approved indication for MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment, this study may also have implications for other indications which are now investigational."
Profound Medical Inc. (PMI) has selected Steven Plymale as its new Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Paul Chipperton, who has become Chief Business Officer (CBO).
Plymale will assume overall leadership and oversight of day-to-day operations of the Toronto-based PMI, and Chipperton will be responsible for business development and engagement of key strategic partnerships.
Plymale has more than two decades of operational and executive management experience focused in the development and commercialization of medical devices. Prior to joining PMI, he served as Vice President and General Manager of Xltek (a division of Natus Medical Incorporated), a neurology solutions provider to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare environments. He also played pivotal roles in several other healthcare companies, such as Cryocath Technologies and Cedara Software.
As previously reported in this newsletter, PMI is commercializing an MRI-guided, transurethral thermal ultrasound treatment for localized prostate cancer. The company expects to launch clinical trials in the USA and Canada in the near future.
The FUS Foundation's Scientific and Medical Director Arik Hananel, MD will serve as committee secretary.
Committee members will participate in planning the scientific program by engaging in abstract review and session structure and by acting as symposium moderators and presenters. The membership roster includes representatives from the world's top focused ultrasound institutions, based on research and clinical activity. Members are:
Jean-François Aubry, PhD, Institut Langevin, Paris, France Kim Butts Pauly, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA Matt Dreher, PhD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA Keyvan Farahani, PhD, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA Joo Ha Hwang, MD, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA Kullervo Hynynen, PhD, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada Young-sun Kim, MD, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea Nathan McDannold, PhD, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Chrit Moonen, PhD, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands Dennis Parker, PhD, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Rich Price, PhD, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Image-guided focused ultrasound is spotlighted in October issue of Medtech Insight
Medtech Insight, a publication targeted to medical technology executives and investment professionals, has published a must-read article, "Image-guided Focused Ultrasound Gains Ground as Noninvasive Therapeutic Tool." The five-page report provides a comprehensive overview of the field and contains exhibits that list the companies involved in image-guided focused ultrasound, compare the advantages of Philips MRgHIFU technology versus open surgery and radiotherapy, illustrate the evolution of treatment strategies for uterine fibroids and summarize the potential future applications of the technology.
Supplementing the report is an in-depth, five-page interview with FUS Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD about the future of image-guided focused ultrasound.
Research Awards Program unveils new, dual-track application process
Next quarterly submission deadline is January 3, 2012
The Research Awards Program has announced the creation of a dual-track application process.
Before applying for funding, researchers must determine which program track they wish to pursue:
The Clinical Indication Track, which provides funding for preclinical and pilot clinical research projects that promise to lead to the development of a reimbursable clinical indication for focused ultrasound within the next five to seven years;
The High Risk Track, which provides funding for high-risk, early-stage, proof-of-concept research projects that are unlikely to receive funding from other sources and, if successful, could have a profound impact on the advancement of the field of focused ultrasound.
After selecting a track, researchers should complete the corresponding abstract form and submit it via the foundation's online application submission system. Applicants are advised to pay close attention to the instructions provided on the form, as abstract submissions that fail to adhere to the guidelines may be returned for revision.
"Our hope is that by further refining the application process, we will provide better guidance to prospective applicants regarding the goals of the program and the types of projects we are interested in funding," explains Hannah Edelen, Director of the Research Awards Program. "Defining our expectations more clearly should enable applicants to better design their projects and tailor their proposals to address the foundation's research priorities."
Research Award abstracts are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants will be notified within ten business days following submission of an abstract if they have been invited to submit a full proposal.
Full proposals — both original and revised — must be submitted on or before the quarterly submission deadline to be included in the review cycle for that quarter. Proposals received after the submission deadline will be included in the next review cycle.
The next quarterly submission deadline is January 3, 2012, and funding decisions will be announced by April 1, 2012.
2012 FUS Symposium sponsorship opportunities now available
An expanded range of sponsorship opportunities is now available for the 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound Therapy. Scheduled for October 14-17, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, the symposium will be a premiere event for the worldwide focused ultrasound community.
Important changes are being made to the symposium program for 2012. The agenda features both MR-guided and ultrasound-guided applications and has been extended to three full days of plenary sessions, panel discussions, poster presentations and technical exhibits.
"We're expecting this symposium to be the most comprehensive, informative and inspiring event we've ever organized,"says Heather Huff Simonin, MBA, the FUS Foundation's Director of Global Business Development. "It promises to be the go-to meeting for everyone with an interest in focused ultrasound therapies, including researchers, clinicians, public health officials, device makers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists."
Organizers of the annual meeting of the Radiologic Society of North America (RSNA) report that the number of advance professional and guest registrations has risen by seven percent this year, compared to 2010's total attendance of 36,197.
The meeting, which is scheduled for November 27 to December 2 in Chicago, will feature technical exhibits by focused ultrasound device makers, including:
FUS Instruments GE Healthcare/InSightec Philips Healthcare Supersonic Imagine
(North Building-Hall B, Booth 9336B) (South Building-Hall A, Booth 3335) (North Building-Hall B, Booth 7159 and 7721) (North Building-Hall B, Booth 7141)
UCSF seeking two post-doctoral fellows in MR-guided focused ultrasound
The MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Group in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California San Francisco is seeking two post-doctoral fellows to develop and implement MR imaging and processing techniques for MR-guided focused ultrasound.
Special projects of interest will include the development of MR imaging techniques for FUS applications, such as prostate and bone ablation, and real-time techniques for cardiac temperature monitoring. The successful candidates will participate in multidisciplinary and translational research programs in one of the many areas of collaborative interest at UCSF.
Correction to FUS Foundation October 28, 2011 news bulletin
The foundation sincerely apologizes to Yoav Medan, PhD for misspelling his last name in the third paragraph of the news bulletin sent out last month. There was also a punctuation error in his title, which is Vice President and Chief Systems Architect for InSightec. Our goal is to provide accurate information to our readers, and yet our diligent quality control efforts sometimes fail to catch typographical errors. We extend our apologies to Dr. Medan and applaud his extraordinary contributions to the field of focused ultrasound, including his exceptional presentation at TEDMED 2011.
Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation | 1230 Cedars Court, Suite F | Charlottesville VA | 22902 Questions and comments about this newsletter should be sent to the Foundation's Director of Communications, Ellen C. McKenna ()