Leadership profile: David and Diane Heller are steadfast supporters
Remarkably successful in the world of finance, Focused Ultrasound Foundation board member David B. Heller is President of Advisory Research Inc., a Chicago-based securities firm that he founded in 1974. ARI, which manages $5.2 billion in assets for individual and institutional investors, specializes in value investing. Simply put, this approach is based on the ability to recognize the potential or true value of an asset long before others do.
Fortunately for the Foundation, Heller's interest in areas of high potential extends beyond his professional life. Several years ago, he and his wife, Diane, met Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD and learned about the nascent, noninvasive medical technology called focused ultrasound. Since then, the couple's leadership and generosity have accelerated the Foundation's work and success.
Abstract submission deadline extended to July 2 for 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound
July 2 is the new abstract submission deadline for the 3rd International Symposium on Current and Future Applications of Focused Ultrasound. Acceptance notifications will be communicated in early August.
"This change was prompted by the streamlining of symposium development activities, coupled with our desire to present as much recently completed research as possible," explains Arik Hananel, MD, Medical and Scientific Director for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
The symposium is scheduled for October 14-17 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Hananel says that a robust agenda is planned for the symposium and will include panel discussions led by esteemed experts from around the world, small group informal meetings, oral and poster presentations and technical exhibits. A broad range of topics will be covered, including, but not limited to, translational, preclinical and clinical research for clinical applications in brain, breast, liver, pancreas, prostate, uterus, bone tumors, back and neck pain. Also of interest is research related to focused ultrasound socio-economic issues, cost analysis, best practices and reimbursement.
"Oral sessions will be organized in a single track, with a dedicated poster session scheduled for the evening of October 16," Hananel says.
To encourage the participation of early-career scientists in the 2012 International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, the Foundation is providing up to ten Young Investigator Travel Awards. In addition to special recognition during the symposium, award recipients will receive free registration and up to $1,500 for travel and lodging expenses.
MR-guided focused ultrasound has entered a crucial period in terms of adoption,says Jacques Coumans, PhD, general manager for premium and interventional MRI at GE Healthcare. The pressing challenge, he says, is to "cross the chasm to mainstream clinical use" by expanding the number of sites worldwide from about 150 today to 1,000 or more.
Coumans, who has worked in the field of MRI since 1985 and has been following MR-guided focused ultrasound since its inception, is optimistic about the technology's ultimate success.
Foundation's Brain Program issues white paper detailing developments discussed at recent 2011 thought-leader workshop
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation's Brain Program has just released a white paper highlighting the recent findings and status updates on clinical, preclinical, and technical research projects discussed during its thought-leader workshop in October 2011. The workshop drew 77 participants who travelled from 12 countries and represented about 30 different institutions, companies and government agencies.
The white paper's clinical updates include the latest patient data related to focused ultrasound treatments for essential tremor, Parkinson's disease, neuropathic pain and brain tumors. The paper also covers recent developments in preclinical and technical research, provides an overview of newly-established working groups and outlines the research activities planned for the next one to two years.
European Working Group on Focused Ultrasound holds planning meeting
A new working group of focused ultrasound researchers and clinicians is forming in Europe. Known as the European Working Group on Focused Ultrasound, or EFUS, the new initiative is being led by Carlo Catalano, MD and Alessandro Napoli, MD of the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy and by Andreas Melzer, MD, DDS of the University of Dundee in Scotland.
Created during the 1st European Symposium on Focused Ultrasound in September, 2011, EFUS held an invitational planning meeting on February 10 in Rome. The 20 attendees agreed that the group's goal will be to promote and develop focused ultrasound techniques, research and clinical applications.
According to Arik Hananel, MD, who represented the Focused Ultrasound Foundation at the meeting, key discussion points included:
Organizing the next European Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, chaired by Andreas Melzer;
Assigning areas of responsibility to participants in both clinical and research areas; and,
Funding future EFUS activities from industry and public sources.
Further information about EFUS can be obtained by contacting: ; ; or
ABC News coverage of tremor patients prompts thousands of inquiries about focused ultrasound
A flood of inquiries has poured into the University of Virginia and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation since ABC World News and ABC news affiliates began airing interviews with two women with essential tremor. Both were successfully treated with focused ultrasound during a pilot clinical trial.
"While the ABC News story generated strong public interest in focused ultrasound treatments, we want to make sure that everyone understands this is still an early-stage, investigational technology," says Arik Hananel, MD, Focused Ultrasound Foundation Medical and Scientific Director. "At present, the only focused ultrasound treatment approved by the FDA is for uterine fibroids and only a handful of sites have the equipment." He adds that a second possible indication — the use of focused ultrasound to treat pain associated with metastatic bone cancer — is now under FDA review.
Patients who are interested in participating in future U.S. clinical trials related to essential tremor are being asked to email the UVA clinical team at . Canadian residents can email to determine if they are eligible for an essential tremor pilot study now open at Sunnybrook Medical Centre in Toronto.
"A great way for people to learn about the latest developments in focused ultrasound clinical trials and research is to keep reading our monthly newsletter," Hananel says. "It's the best source of up-to-date information about this entire field." Click here to subscribe.
The Discovery Channel's online video channel, Curiosity.com, has posted 12 videos featuring Yoav Medan, PhD discussing various aspects of focused ultrasound. Medan, who presented, "Focused Ultrasound — Healing without Cuts," at the prestigious TEDMED 2011 conference, is now Visiting Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering at the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel.
In addition to calls and emails, viewer response to the ABC news coverage included many positive, supportive online comments about focused ultrasound. Here's a sampling:
"As an artist who has had tremors in my hands and neck since being hit by a car in my early teens, this is a miracle that made me cry. I have had doctors put me on several medications from benzos to blood pressure meds to try and control, with no success. Some days are better than others, but all of them are hard. The pain generated by forcing control of these fighting, opposing muscles is seriously real, and makes quality of life rotten. Not to mention the limitations in daily life, music and art. This is a true breakthrough and I'm still stunned that there is a real, non-pharmaceutical cure for this wretched problem that looks so innocent, can be so funny, and is so frustrating and painful. Thank you so much for the information."
"What wonderful news for those of us suffering. My sister and I both have the problem and she cannot hold anything without spilling...so my fingers are crossed for wide availability. Add me to any list that might offer opportunities please."
"What a wonderful story! I hope this technique is made available to the millions that need it."
FUS is topic of Public Radio interview
During a recent interview on Virginia Public Radio, Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD discussed focused ultrasound indications that are being investigated at the University of Virginia and other sites around the world. He noted that the technology's first FDA-approved use is for treating uterine fibroids. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that all insurance carriers cover the procedure.
On February 1, 2012, the Virginia House of Delegates applauded Neal F. Kassell, MD, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia and founder and chairman of the Charlottesville-based Focused Ultrasound Foundation. House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell arranged the recognition to spotlight Kassell's role in establishing the internationally-recognized Foundation and in creating UVA's Focused Ultrasound Center. The center, which was established in 2009 with funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and industry, has attracted much media and public interest for its pioneering clinical research.
Delegate Rob Bell introduced Kassell saying, "While we're working on things that probably aren't that important, he's working every day on how to treat Virginians and impact everybody in the entire world."
Focused Ultrasound 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 ()