Symposium abstract submissions, Young Investigator applications soar
Researcher interest in the 3rd International Symposium Focused Ultrasound has reached unprecedented levels, reports Neal Kassell, MD, chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. "We’ve received 50 percent more abstracts than in previous years," he says. "Young Investigator applications have nearly quadrupled since the 2nd International Symposium in 2010."
Kassell says this surge in interest is indicative of escalating clinical momentum in the field of image-guided focused ultrasound. "More patient studies either have been launched or added to the pipeline during the past two years than at any other point in the history of focused ultrasound," he notes. "The pace of translational research is swiftly accelerating."
Abstract review and selection is now underway. Acceptance notifications will be sent in late August. Young Investigator award winners will also be notified at that time.
"We have received 48 Young Investigator applications and have 10 awards available, so this will be a particularly competitive selection process," Kassell adds. Young Investigators will receive free symposium registration, up to $1,500 in travel expenses and special recognition during the symposium’s Evening Poster Session.
The Preliminary Scientific Program is posted online. A final program will be available in August following the conclusion of the abstract selection process.
There is still time to take advantage of the symposium’s early bird registration fees. Register online before August 31, 2012 and save up to $100.
Make your reservations at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center by September 24, 2012 and receive the special symposium room rate.
More Foundation news
Foundation 2Q12 highlights
Each quarter, the Foundation provides a highlight report to our donors, friends and supporters. Between April and June 2012, key highlights were:
Brain Program/Clinical: Essential Tremor pilot clinical trials were initiated at two additional sites: Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2 patients treated; study is Foundation-funded) and Yonsei University Medical Center in Seoul, Korea (4 patients treated)
Liver/Pancreas Program: The Foundation hosted its first Liver Workshop in June in Heidelberg, Germany, which produced two key outputs: 1) determination of unmet clinical need for liver tumors; 2) creation of a roadmap for the development and adoption of HIFU for liver tumors.
New initiatives: A) Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound is preparing for launch in conjunction with the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) and BioMed Central; a 25 member editorial board has been selected; B)Summer internship program has been launched by the Foundation and is enabling five bright and gifted college students to engage in focused ultrasound research.
Communications: A) Earned media included: WUSA-TV (Washington, DC); FOCUS (German weekly news magazine); The Boston Globe; AANS Neurosurgeon; TRAIN (FasterCures); Auntminnie.com; Richmond Times Dispatch, Albemarle Magazine, The Daily Progress, the Charlottesville Newsplex (CBS, ABC, FOX TV); B) Branding activities included the development of new message and design platforms.
Foundation expands its Collaborative Research Network into China
During her visit to China, the Foundation’s Director of Global Business Development Heather Huff-Simonin observed a liver tumor treatment using focused ultrasound.
The Foundation’s Director of Global Business Development Heather Huff-Simonin, MBA recently returned from an outreach trip to China where she visited nine focused ultrasound treatment sites in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. She met site staff, clinicians and executives and observed uterine fibroid, adenomyosis and liver tumor treatments.
During her visit, which was hosted by representatives from Chongqing HAIFU and InSightec, Ltd., Huff-Simonin also met with healthcare executives who are prospective purchasers of focused ultrasound equipment. "The channels of communication are now open with the Chinese healthcare community. This is a really exciting development for us because China is such a vast and dynamic market for focused ultrasound," she reports. "It takes time to establish trust and build relationships, and I think we are off to a great start."
The key focused ultrasound device maker in China is Chonqing HAIFU; Philips and InSightec are entering the market and pursuing regulatory approvals for their systems. While numerous clinical applications have been approved, Huff-Simonin says the most widely performed focused ultrasound procedures are for uterine fibroids and liver tumors.
Research Awards Program undergoing leadership change
Matt Eames, PhD
Matt Eames, PhD to succeed Hannah Edelen, JD
Matt Eames, PhD, Brain Program senior project engineer, is stepping in to lead the Research Awards Program succeeding Hannah Edelen, JD, who is leaving the Focused Ultrasound Foundation at the end of July. Eames will assume a new title, Director of Extramural Research, to encompass his accountabilities for research awards and for the Brain Program research he will continue doing. Eames will oversee the research awards funding cycle set to begin with the August 2 submission deadline for full proposals. He will also organize the next quarterly meeting of the Program Funding Committee which will select new research award recipients.
Eames earned his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia performing research in the design, modeling, fabrication, and characterization of combined diagnostic/therapeutic ultrasound transducers. He joined the Foundation’s Brain Program in late 2009 and has been actively engaged in technical research related to transcranial applications of focused ultrasound.
Hannah Edelen, JD
"Matt is an outstanding independent investigator and has an affinity for the administrative aspects of research. He is poised to take our Research Awards Program to the next level of success," says Focused Ultrasound Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD. "Hannah did a fabulous job and has been a valued member of the team. Everyone liked working with her, and she will definitely be missed."
Edelen assumed responsibility for the Research Awards Program in December 2008 when it was still in its infancy. She oversaw the quadrupling of its funding totals, continuous process and program improvement and consistent attainment of success metrics.
Ultrasonic brain therapy expert, Jean-Francois Aubry, PhD, to be visiting associate professor at UVA
Through a visiting associate professorship funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, one of the world’s leading ultrasonic therapy experts will spend the next eleven months collaborating with focused ultrasound researchers at the University of Virginia and with the Foundation’s Brain Program team. Jean-Francois (Jeff) Aubry, PhD, will be taking a leave of absence from Institut Langevin in Paris, France to engage in research that could improve focused ultrasound treatments for the brain. He will be an Associate Professor in UVA’s Department of Radiation Oncology from August 2012 through July 2013.
"Jeff has been a collaborator on projects that the Foundation funds at the University of Utah and Langevin. By bringing him here, we are moving some the center of gravity of that collaboration to UVA," explains John Snell, PhD, technical director of the Foundation’s Brain Program. "Our goal is to strengthen the collaboration among UVA, the Foundation and Langevin. Hopefully, the opportunity to interact and work with Jeff will inspire more UVA researchers to get engaged with focused ultrasound."
Del. William Howell (right) had an opportunity to meet UVA Essential Tremor Study participant Phyllis Walker and her husband, Vic, at the "First 15" patient event in April.
UVA Focused Ultrasound Center receives an additional $1.5M in state funding
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s first designated Center of Excellence at the University of Virginia will be receiving an added $1.5 million for research over two years from the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a participant in the public-private partnership that created the UVA Center in 2009, the Commonwealth had previously provided $4 million in support.
"The accomplishments of the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center over the past few years have placed the Commonwealth of Virginia on the cutting edge of medical innovation," observes Delegate William J. Howell, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. "We want this momentum to continue and to ultimately equate to economic growth in Virginia and improved healthcare for our citizens and for people everywhere."
The multi-disciplinary UVA Center is recognized for its pioneering work in developing new ultrasound treatments for essential tremor and other brain conditions. It has been a hub for international collaborations and has attracted substantial philanthropic support and NIH funding.
"We are grateful for this added funding from the Commonwealth. It will enable us to expand and speed up our most important research efforts," noted UVA’s James Larner, MD, professor and chair of Radiation Oncology and director of the Focused Ultrasound Center. "Thousands of patients have expressed interest in participating in our clinical trials, so we know there are large unmet medical needs that our focused ultrasound research may help address."
PanAm HIFU opens prostate cancer treatment center in Mexico
Sarasota, Florida-based PanAm HIFU has opened a prostate cancer treatment site at Amerimed Hospital in Cancun, Mexico. The new site represents a partnership between PanAm and EDAP TMS SA, manufacturer of the Ablatherm-HIFU system, which is approved in Europe and generally recommended for patients with localized prostate cancer (stages T1-T2) who are not candidates for surgery or who prefer an alternative option, or for patients who failed radiotherapy treatment.
The Cancun center is PanAm’s second offshore site; the first is in London, England. Medical Director Ronald E. Wheeler, MD, explained that PanAm’s new facility will satisfy increasing patient demand and serve as a HIFU technology training site for American physicians "in preparation for [Ablatherm’s] U.S. approval."
Toronto’s Sunnybrook receives $1M to advance new breast cancer treatment
The Breast Cancer Society of Canada has donated $1 million to speed the development of a new microbubbles and ultrasound treatment for advanced localized breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that typically affects women 35-45 years old and has an extremely high mortality rate. The society provided the funding to the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto where pre-clinical studies are determining if combining microbubbles and ultrasound make breast tumors more responsive to chemotherapy and radiation.
St. Vincent’s Hospital (Australia) assessing focused ultrasound as a treatment for high blood pressure
Patient recruitment is underway at St. Peter’s Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria for a clinical trial assessing the safety of a focused ultrasound system in treating patients with drug-resistant hypertension. Manufactured by privately-held, US-based Kona Medical, the system is designed to noninvasively ablate renal nerves, which play a significant role in determining blood pressure.
"Schall statt Skalpell" is title of report in Germany’s FOCUS magazine
Focused ultrasound was the topic of a mid-June feature in FOCUS, a German weekly news magazine that has the largest circulation in Europe. Translated into English, the story's title reads, "Sounds instead of Scalpel." The article, which featured University of Virginia essential tremor study patient Dot Highberg, noted that focused ultrasound has been used in Germany for several years to treat uterine myomas (fibroids).
August 27-31, 2012: Integrated Interventional Imaging Operating System (IIIOS) Summer School
Conducted byat the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT), University of Dundee, Scotland. The program will address the challenges of MRI guided interventions through the different perspectives of technology involved, procedure development and training needed. Registration closes July 31st.
Conducted by the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT), University of Dundee, Scotland. The program will cover the multi-disciplinary challenges associated with the application of focused ultrasound for targeted drug delivery under MR-guidance. Registration closes July 31st.
October 14-17: 3rd International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound
Organized by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, the Symposium is a global forum covering state-of-the-art clinical applications of image-guided focused ultrasound. Topics include applications in: the brain, breast, liver, pancreas and prostate; uterine fibroids and fertility; bone tumors; back and neck pain; and emerging applications. Oral and poster presentations will address the latest advances using both MRI and ultrasound guidance. Complete information can be found online at www.fusfoundation.org/Symposium.
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 ()