Kobi Vortman, PhD, Will Receive the Inaugural Commercialization Pathfinder Award

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Jacob “Kobi” Vortman, PhD, is the Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board at Insightec and the recipient of the Foundation’s inaugural Commercialization Pathfinder Award. Over his more than 23-year career in focused ultrasound, he has shown an unrivaled dedication to the mission of improving lives with this revolutionary technology.

The award recognizes an individual who has served as a galvanizing force in facilitating the rapid acceleration of focused ultrasound, speeding the transition from laboratory research to widespread adoption and utilization of the technology. The recipient is always working to achieve the ultimate goal – providing significant contributions to the use of focused ultrasound technology to decrease death, disability, and suffering for patients with serious medical disorders around the world.

Dr. Vortman’s career in focused ultrasound began as president of Elbit Medical Imaging, where he was responsible for developing the company’s proprietary MR-guided focused ultrasound technology. It was this technology that launched Insightec in 1999 as part of a joint effort by Elbit and GE Healthcare.

Dr. Vortman served as Insightec’s Chief Executive Officer until 2016, when he transitioned to his current role. For the past 23 years, Insightec has been an industry leader in advancing focused ultrasound for many disorders, and this is in large part due to Dr. Vortman’s vision. The company’s Exablate system was the first focused ultrasound device to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration when it earned the recognition in 2004 to treat uterine fibroids. Various versions of the system have since earned approvals globally to treat essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, bone metastases, prostate cancer, arthritis, depression, neuropathic pain, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. 

Eyal Zadicario, PhD, Insightec’s Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, joined Insightec when it was founded in 1999 and has worked alongside Dr. Vortman during his tenure.

“Kobi has focused his and the team’s efforts on transforming focused ultrasound from a vision into a reality,” says Dr. Zadicario. “His extraordinary journey – realizing the potential, founding Insightec, overcoming unprecedented scientific challenges, and guiding the company through clinical evidence approval and acceptance – has positioned the technology at the leading edge of neurosurgery. He is an example to us all for the passion, dedication and professionalism it takes to make breakthroughs happen.”

Professor Wladyslaw “Wady” Gedroyc, MBBS, MRCP, FRCR, a Consultant Radiologist at St. Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College NHS trust, remembers Dr. Vortman’s galvanizing force in the early days of focused ultrasound.

“He is not only a highly effective leader within Insightec, but he is a dedicated engineer and scientist,” said Prof. Gedroyc. “We met at what I believe was the very first focused ultrasound workshop, attended by only the handful of researchers in the area at that time. I had the idea that focused ultrasound would be a good treatment for uterine fibroids, and that is how our relationship began. I’ve always regarded him as a friend, first and foremost, and as a collaborator second, and only then third as a manufacturer.”

Another longtime friend and colleague, Neal F. Kassell, MD, the Foundation’s Founder and Chairman, has immense respect for Dr. Vortman’s contributions to the field and his support of the Foundation.

“There is no individual who has done more to advance focused ultrasound from an idea to a full-fledged product that can improve the lives of countless patients as a new standard of care,” said Dr. Kassell. “We are pleased to recognize his contributions with this award.”

Over the last 23 years, Dr. Vortman contributed to 18 approved patents and 13 patent applications that are currently in different stages of prosecution.

Dr. Vortman received his PhD in Electro Optics and a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He also received a BSc in Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Foundation’s 8th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound will be held October 23-28, 2022. The event will take place in-person in Bethesda, Maryland, and virtual attendance is also available.