The Foundation's big news this month is that Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD, of Imperial College and St. Mary's Hospital in London, has agreed to serve as Honorary President of our 2012 international symposium. This announcement, which is reported in detail below, marks the start of a series of developments that will be reported in upcoming newsletters.
The Foundation team is now engaged in planning the 2012 symposium, which is scheduled for October 14-17 in Bethesda, MD, USA. Our enthusiasm is mounting as we identify new elements for the program agenda, which will be a half-day longer than the 2010 symposium. Our goal is to not only build upon the immense success achieved in 2010, but also expand opportunities for information-sharing, collaboration and inspiration. We envision next year's symposium being a shot of adrenaline that boosts the advancement of our highly energized, productive and rapidly expanding field. More details coming soon!
Focused ultrasound pioneer, Wladyslaw Gedroyc, MD, named Honorary President of FUS Foundation's 2012 Symposium
The Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS) Foundation has announced the selection of Wladyslaw Gedroyc, M.D. of Imperial College and Saint Mary's Hospital in London as Honorary President of the 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound.
A consultant radiologist, Gedroyc is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the development of noninvasive patient treatments using MR-guided focused ultrasound. Much of Gedroyc's ground-breaking work has involved the treatment of uterine fibroids and abdominal conditions such as pancreatic and liver tumors. He is currently investigating a focused ultrasound application to alleviate the severe back pain associated with facet joint disease.
FUS Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, noted, "We are delighted to have Professor Gedroyc serving as Honorary President. He is a preeminent clinician and thought leader who has been a driving force in the field of therapeutic ultrasound. We deeply respect and appreciate his accomplishments and applaud the vision and values that have shaped his work." The 3rd International Symposium on MR-guided Focused Ultrasound will be held October 14- 17, 2012 in Bethesda, MD, USA. Gedroyc anticipates that the symposium will showcase and contribute to the escalating progress of preclinical research and new clinical applications. "I hope that symposium attendees will gain a huge insight into the full range of applications that focused ultrasound can provide to them and, therefore, to their patients," he said.
The symposium's three-day agenda will spotlight leading edge preclinical, translational and clinical research and address issues impacting widespread adoption of MR-guided focused ultrasound therapies. Information about the symposium can be found here.
Reminder: Oct. 1 is quarterly submission deadline for FUSF Research Awards
Researchers who have submitted abstracts and been invited to submit full proposals to the FUS Foundation's Research Awards Program are reminded that their original or revised input must be received by October 1 in order to be considered for funding during the first quarter of 2012. Proposals received after the submission deadline will automatically be deferred to the next funding cycle.
The Research Awards Program, which received a record number of proposals last quarter, continues to accept and review abstracts on a rolling basis. However, the program's independent Research Advisory Committee only reviews full proposals and makes funding recommendations on a quarterly basis.
Research Awards Program Calendar
Submission deadline: July 1, 2011 October 1, 2011 January 3, 2012 April 1, 2012
Notification of funding decision: October 1, 2011 (pending) January 3, 2012 April 1, 2012 July 1, 2012
Founding FUSF donor joins Warren Buffett's leadership team
The FUS Foundation extends its warmest congratulations to Ted Weschler, a Charlottesville-based entrepreneur and hedge fund manager hired this month by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Weschler will be among the handful of money managers leading the firm when its current chief investment officer, Warren Buffett, retires.
Weschler, 50, is known for going the distance - he is a marathon runner and an extraordinarily successful long-term investor. He has also been a long-term supporter of the FUS Foundation. As the Foundation's Chairman Neal Kassell, MD explains, "Ted Weschler really jump-started the FUS Foundation. I went to him to present the concept back in 2004, and he quickly became our first donor."
Kassell adds, "We are truly excited for Ted and are appreciative of his encouragement and support. We look forward to our continued relationship with him as this next chapter of his career unfolds."
Facility dedicated to leading-edge personalized medicine offers MR-guided focused ultrasound
Site Update: Chaum Life Center, Seoul, Korea
During a recent visit to Korea, FUS Foundation Director of Global Business Development Heather Huff-Simonin toured several sites but none impressed her more than Chaum Life Center in Seoul.
Heather Huff-Simonin, left, visits Chaum Life Center in Seoul, Korea
"Visiting the center was like taking a journey into the future of healthcare. Its an amazing facility, organized around the concept of personalized medicine. The therapeutic goal is to create a positive and memorable experience for the patient," Huff-Simonin says.
Opened in October 2010, the center was created by Kwang Yul Cha, MD, the founder and head of CHA Health Systems. CHA currently operates a global network of healthcare facilities that includes Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, 12 general hospitals in Korea and two fertility treatment and anti-aging research centers in the US and Korea.
Because of their interest in maintaining the integrity of the human body, Chaums clinical team has a keen interest in noninvasive treatments, such as MR-guided focused ultrasound. Currently, the center is using the highly precise sound wave therapy to treat uterine fibroids and will soon use it for fertility enhancement. "At Chaum, MR-guided focused ultrasound is viewed as part of an integrated solution. Patients choose this therapeutic option because it is safe, effective, noninvasive, offers quick recovery and doesnt expose them to ionizing radiation,” she notes.
Chaum also emphasizes early diagnosis, preventive strategies and lifestyle changes. Its approach integrates ancient healing arts with leading-edge technology to achieve optimal health, harmony and balance of the body, mind and spirit,” Huff-Simonin explains.
The inspiration for Chaums approach to patient care came from an unexpected source – American inventor Thomas Edison, who said, "The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Cha himself has said, "The new vision of a hospital is not a hospital at all – it is an urban oasis that people want to visit as part of their lives, a place they belong to, designed to slow the aging process through the prevention of disease.”
Huff-Simonins tour of Chaum was hosted by Sang-Wook Yoon, MD, a radiologist who leads the focused ultrasound team at one of CHA's other facilities in Seoul, Bundang Medical Center.
MR-guided focused ultrasound will be topic at TEDMED 2011
Interview with invited speaker Yoav Medan, PhD, MBA
Many readers of this newsletter know about TEDMED, the annual high-profile, mover and shaker event. It brings together a roster of health, information and technology professionals and pioneers who share their personal stories and spotlight developments and ideas that are shaping healthcare's future. Key goals of TEDMED are to give thought leaders from various disciplines and industries an opportunity to learn from each other and to collectively address major problems in healthcare.
Yoav Medan, PhD, MBA
We're excited to report that Yoav Medan, PhD, MBA, Vice President and Chief Systems Architect for InSightec, has accepted an invitation to speak at TEDMED 2011, which is scheduled for October 25-28 in San Diego, CA, USA. While his talk is still under development, Medan says it will "describe the technology and pay tribute to those who pioneered it throughout the years."
His key goals are: 1) Remind the audience of the Hippocratic Oath (Firstly, do no harm) and the need/desire to respect patients' physical and mental integrity; 2) describe MRgFUS technology and how it can revolutionize surgery while attaining this goal; and 3) show how the treatment actually transforms patients' lives to a point where they feel "reborn."
Medan, who describes himself as a long-time TEDMED fan, hopes that his presentation will have a positive impact on the field of MR-guided focused ultrasound. "I realize the power of TEDMED in sharing ideas and think it is an excellent venue for spreading the idea of MRgFUS. I do realize that I am acting as an ambassador for the community," he notes.
All TEDMED 2011 presentations are expected to be posted online, and a link to Medan's talk will be provided in a future issue of this newsletter.
FUSF's first Center of Excellence is making a mark on focused ultrasound field
The FUS Foundation's Center of Excellence Program is preparing to expand. Our next designated site will soon be announced and embody the same multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach and commitment to pushing the R&D envelope as found at our first Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence, which celebrated its second anniversary this month.
Located at the University of Virginia, the center is already making its mark on the focused ultrasound field. As Richard Price, PhD, the center's Research Director, explains, "To date, our most significant advance has been the early success of the world's first clinical trial for essential tremor, which is being led by W. Jeff Elias, MD. It is certainly our most visible project and has the potential to change the lives of thousands of patients every year."
Price says the preclinical studies on intracerebral hemorrhage being led by Stephen Monteith, MD are also highly significant. "I expect translation of this work to clinical trials will represent another milestone for the center," he notes. "I am hopeful that clinical trials for treating brain metastases are also on the horizon. There are a host of other projects that I hope to see translate to the clinic in the 2-10 year window."
Price estimates that there are 20 studies related to ultrasound therapy that are planned or underway at UVA. "The number of people working on these projects is on the order of 50, but probably more," he adds.
The UVA Center celebrated its second anniversary by hosting an evening symposium on September 8. The event provided updates on preclinical and clinical projects and gave prospective researchers an opportunity to present their ideas.
According to Price, the symposium helped spark added enthusiasm within the UVA community. "Enthusiasm is really beginning to build. Scientists are naturally, and with good reason, critical when it comes to new hypotheses, findings, and technologies. Thus, it can take time to persuade them that something like MR-guided focused ultrasound has so much potential," he explains. "I can see that we are rounding that turn and many more people are contacting me about the technology and what it can do for their research and/or practice."
Mayo Clinic, Duke conducting FIRSTT study comparing FUS with uterine artery embolization
Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD
Patient enrollment is underway for the first US-based study comparing MR-guided focused ultrasound and uterine artery embolization (UAE) for the treatment of uterine fibroids. The study, called The Fibroid Interventions: Reducing Symptoms Today and Tomorrow (FIRSTT) trial, is now open at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and at Duke University in Durham, NC. Study participants will be randomly assigned for treatment with either FUS or UAE.
Expected to provide important insights regarding the benefits and potential drawbacks of newer non-surgical treatment approaches for uterine fibroids, the study will follow patients for three years. Its goal is to assess how effective treatments are in symptom relief, side effects, impact on women's quality of life, need for additional treatment, potential for future fertility and even the costs associated with each approach.
"Many women suffering from fibroids go to their local doctor and are offered hysterectomy to treat their fibroids, but are given no long-lasting alternatives to surgery," says Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mayo Clinic. "Both UAE and FUS are excellent less invasive options for women, but we have very little scientific evidence comparing these two approaches. The major goal of this important study is to generate information that will guide physicians and patients on the options that are right for them."
The success of the FIRSTT trial depends on women participating in the research. The study seeks to enroll 220 women who can be treated at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota or Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Complete information about the study and its eligibility requirements can be found here.
Fibroid Relief unveils new website, physician videos
Fibroid Relief, the FUS Foundation's patient support initiative, has launched a renovated web site to improve its ability to educate women about MR-guided focused ultrasound as a non-invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids.
In October of 2008, the Foundation launched Fibroid Relief to fill an information void for patients with uterine fibroids. Through public events and its website, this initiative has become a vital and respected source of information about uterine fibroid treatment options, including MR-guided focused ultrasound.
John Fischer, MD, Robert Zurawin, MD and Denise Nebgen, MD, PhD
The revamped web site presents Fibroid Relief's educational material in a better organized format and features a new educational video series with the expectation that these changes will make the important information even more accessible. MRgFUS is given special emphasis on the site with a large section on the different aspects of the procedure, testimonies from women who have had the treatment, and a strong prominence in the video series.
"We've continued to revise and refine the information Fibroid Relief delivers to ensure we're providing patients comprehensive information to aid them in making the best decision about their own care," says Fibroid Relief Founder Joy Polefrone, Ph.D. "I'm delighted to see the launch of the revamped site, as it's a substantial advancement in the types and depth of information on Fibroid Relief's site, and I hope it will help us continue to achieve the important mission of educating women about their full range of treatment options."
The new video series represents the biggest move forward for the web site. The series includes nine videos, eight of which are hosted by three physicians from the Fibroid Relief Advisory Board, who generously gave of their time to help women better understand their options. John Fischer, MD, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital; Denise Nebgen, MD, PhD, The Methodist Hospital; and Robert Zurawin, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, present material on topics including MRgFUS, Surgical Options, Hormonal Treatment Options and more. In order to include a patient perspective in the series, the ninth video features a Fibroid Relief patient advocate talking about her successful experience with MRgFUS in a clinical trial at the University of Virginia.
Fibroid Relief has reached more than 85,000 women through its web site and Facebook group, has hosted events for hundreds of women around the U.S. and the U.K., and provided educational brochures to hundreds of domestic and international physicians at medical conferences.
FUSF Council member becomes CEO of Houghton Mifflin
Linda Zecher, a member of the FUS Foundation’s Advisory Council, has been named President, CEO and Director of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Boston-based global education and learning company. She had been corporate vice president of Microsoft's $8 billion Worldwide Public Sector business.
In her new position, Zechler will lead the world’s largest provider of materials for pre-K-12 learning. HMH products and services are used by 57 million students in the US and 120 other countries. In a statement to media, Zecher said, "I have a passion for education and have worked in the space from a technology perspective throughout my career. I look forward to combining HMH's rich content and leadership position in the market with technology innovations in education to advance teacher and classroom capabilities around the globe."
The Foundation extends our congratulations to Linda and wishes her much success in her new leadership position.