The focused ultrasound community lost its most passionate and generous supporter on March 11 when David Heller succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 80. True to his character, he battled the disease vigorously for two years but in the end he died peacefully, with dignity and grace at home with Diane, his wife and inseparable partner of 30 years, at his side.
Always a force to be reckoned with, David was extraordinarily successful financially. However, his greatest pleasure was not in making money but in giving it away. The ultimate venture philanthropist, he was driven by a desire to make a real difference in people's lives. Over the years David and Diane generously supported numerous causes, but in the last months as it became apparent that the end was in sight, David repeatedly stated that the most important activity in which they were involved was the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and that he considered his legacy to be the patients who were going to benefit from the advances in the field resulting from his time, energy and money.
David was one of the founding directors of the Foundation at its inception five years ago and was involved almost on a daily basis in providing invaluable counsel and advice — not infrequently unsolicited, but almost always right. Focused ultrasound has benefited tremendously from David's efforts and contagious sense of urgency; we were fortunate to have had him for as long as we did, and while his presence will be missed, the enthusiasm encompassed in his spirit will continue to guide us.
One of the greatest privileges in my life has been to have had David as a colleague and a friend. There is much work be done to move focused ultrasound into the mainstream of medical therapeutics where it can fulfill its potential to improve the lives of millions of people. We look forward to Diane's continuation of this relationship as we move forward.
Neal F. Kassell, MD Chairman, Focused Ultrasound Foundation
Research activist, philanthropist and financier Michael Milken has joined the Focused Ultrasound Foundation Council, a select group of advisors and advocates who are helping to advance our mission.
"Mike's tenacity and experience in transforming the way life-threatening disorders are treated will be extremely beneficial to our work," said Neal F. Kassell, MD, Foundation Chairman. "Whether it's been through the Milken Family Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, FasterCures or the Melanoma Research Alliance, Mike's leadership, dedication and vision to finding ways to impact humanity are part of the reason Fortune magazine cited him as ‘The Man Who Changed Medicine.' We are looking forward to having Mike involved and are confident that his energy will help us further accelerate progress."
Registration is open for 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound
Meeting and hotel registration are now open for the 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound, scheduled for October 14-17, 2012 at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, MD.
The symposium registration fee ranges from $470 to $650, including student and government discounts. The fee covers plenary sessions, special lunchtime discussions, a program book and scheduled breakfasts, lunches and breaks as outlined in the program. Also included are a welcome reception on Sunday, October 14 and an evening poster session and reception on Tuesday, October 15.
Symposium registrants are eligible for a reduced daily room rate of $219 plus taxes, and a special per diem rate is available to Government attendees.
YUMC Severance Hospital treats first two ET patients in new clinical trial
Pre- and post-treatment spiral drawings demonstrate the change experienced by the first patient in YUMC’s essential tremor trial.
Two patients with essential tremor have been successfully treated with focused ultrasound in a clinical trial led by neurosurgeon Jin Woo Chang, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Yonsei University College of Medicine (YUMC) in Seoul, Korea.
Chang reports that his patients "showed remarkable improvement without having any problems." He provided the accompanying pre-treatment and post-treatment spiral drawings, showing the tremor improvement experienced by his first patient.
The clinical trial protocol calls for ten patients to be treated, Chang said. The study is using InSightec's ExAblate Neuro system, recently installed at YUMC.
A leading neurosurgeon in Korea and the Asia Pacific region and president of several medical societies, Chang is now preparing a protocol for a first in the world clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat obsessive compulsive disorder. The study's protocol is awaiting approval by the Korean FDA, and Chang expects to begin patient treatments in May 2012.
Asian markets are leading the adoption of focused ultrasound, reports Falko Busse, PhD, vice president and general manager of MR-HIFU for Philips Healthcare. The early adoption being achieved in Asia, he explains, "Has not so much to do with regulatory hurdles, but it has to do with the health care system. You have a relatively low level of health insurance in these economies, so patients are used to paying for therapies out-of- pocket and they inform themselves." Market adoption in Asia, he says, is being led by "a whole group of entrepreneurial radiologists who drive these new technologies because they see a business and a value for the patient."
Foundation-funded fellow is pioneering new treatment for urological cancer patients
Interview with Sarfraz Ahmad, University of Dundee
Sarfraz Ahmad, MBBS, PhD, MRCSI, MRCSEd
Watching patients suffer from metastatic prostate cancer motivated Sarfraz Ahmad, MBBS, PhD, MRCSI, MRCSEd to pursue a career in urological surgery. His belief in focused ultrasound's ability to help those patients propelled him to apply for a two-year Foundation fellowship, which he received in August 2011.
Ahmad is pursuing his fellowship training at the University of Dundee's Institute of Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT), under the guidance of two mentors, Andreas Melzer, MD and Ghulam Nabis, MD. His key goal is to assess focused ultrasound as a treatment for pain caused by urological cancers that metastasize to the bone. To do so, he is planning to launch a non-randomized pilot clinical trial at IMSaT's Ninewells Hospital involving 20 patients.
Foundation's first research award recipient, Rich Price, receives $3.3 million in follow on funding from the NIH
Project is using focused ultrasound to enable delivery of drugs to the brain
Richard J. Price, PhD
Research activities at the Foundation's first Center of Excellence, located at the University of Virginia, have once again made national news. The Center's Research Director Richard J. Price, PhD and his collaborators at Johns Hopkins University have received a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH grant serves as follow-on funding to the Foundation's first research award, which Price received in 2007. The new funds will enable Price and his collaborators to continue developing new, focused ultrasound-mediated treatments that deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to treat deadly glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors.
Canadian study shows focused ultrasound is safe and effective in treating prostate cancer
The British Journal of Urology (International) has published the results of a 400-patient Canadian study indicating that high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a safe and effective treatment for localized prostate cancer. Used as a primary treatment, HIFU achieved promising four-year biochemically cancer-free rates among low and intermediate risk prostate cancer patients. Study participants received single-session focused ultrasound treatments between May 2005 and December 2010 and were followed for six to 48 months.
A team of seven urologists performed the treatments at the Maple Leaf HIFU Clinic in Toronto using an Ablatherm HIFU system manufactured by EDAP TMS SA of Vaulx-en-Velin, France. William Orovan, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery at McMaster University and medical director of Maple Leaf HIFU led the study. His collaborators included urologists from McMaster, the University of Toronto and Scarborough General Hospital. HIFU has been an approved treatment method in Canada since 2003.