A message from our Chairman

Neal Kassell 09 smDear Friends,

Welcome to the 7th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound and our first meeting to be held in an entirely virtual format.

Let me start by saying we will sorely miss the opportunity to visit with you in person. While the scientific portion of the program is extremely robust, unfortunately the social portion is nearly nonexistent this year.

The Symposium has two intersecting purposes: the first is to share information and knowledge, and the second is to create new – and strengthen existing – relationships.

Regarding the first goal, we are optimistic that the virtual format will not only enhance our ability to share information and knowledge, but also enable us to reach a significantly larger audience. We have seen record registrations this year. Undoubtedly, the learning curve of hosting a virtual meeting will be steep, and we apologize in advance for any resulting inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. We are pioneering new territory together this year.

In contrast, the challenge of fostering personal relationships is one for which we do not yet have a solution. To rapidly advance the field, it is critical that we prioritize communication, cooperation, and collaboration of ideas. These values are the keystones to innovation and help to minimize duplication of effort across the field. We feel strongly that, to be most effective, this requires face-to-face interactions. We plan to build on the lessons learned at this year’s meeting to craft a hybrid model for future symposia, and we eagerly solicit your ideas to mitigate this gap.

We are enthusiastic about this year's scientific program which will include:

  • Keynote and special lectures by:
    • the Symposium’s Honorary President, Joan Vidal-Jové, MD, PhD
    • Nobel Laureate James P. Allison, PhD
    • Milken Institute Chairman Michael Milken
    • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam
    • Chairman of the Board of Directors at Medtronic and Intel Omar Ishrak, PhD
    • Chief of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital Merit Cudkowicz, MD
    • FORTUNE Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf
    • Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation Howard R. Soule, PhD

  • Presentations by award recipients: Lawrence A. Crum, PhD (Visionary Award); Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD (Ferenc Jolesz Memorial Award); and Matthew Bucknor, MD, and Pejman Ghanouni, MD, PhD (Andrew J. Lockhart Memorial Prize).

  • Plenary sessions and panel discussions with ample time for Q&A

  • Expert-led roundtable discussions on specific topics

  • Virtual poster session and industry showcase

This year, we are also devoting portions of our program to the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The Symposium is taking place in an unprecedented time of unrest and uncertainty as a result of the confluence of multiple threats to our pillars of society and our way of life. Many of the ensuing disruptions will be permanent, but on a positive note, many of the changes that would have been inevitable are simply being accelerated.

Fortunately, we in the focused ultrasound community are accustomed to working in a world of disruption. Our community is well positioned to not only survive the challenges currently confronting us but to thrive in this environment.

The important work of our valued community has not only been undiminished but enhanced. We observed a transient slowdown in the development and growth of the field in the early spring, but focused ultrasound is back on track to grow into a multibillion-dollar industry, providing solutions that improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

We appreciate your participation in the Symposium and are very grateful for the generous support of our donors and sponsors which have made it possible. We look forward to a wonderful week together.

Be well,
Neal F. Kassell, MD
Chairman, Focused Ultrasound Foundation

A message from our Honorary President

Joan Vidal JovéDear Friends,

Though the Symposium experience will be very different than what we imagined a year ago, I am pleased to gather – albeit virtually – with all of you this week. I am proud to be a part of the vast, international focused ultrasound community.

I became interested in focused ultrasound in 2008, when I was desperately seeking a way to extend and preserve quality of life for some of the most challenging, advanced stage patients. My research since then has been dedicated to using it to address gastrointestinal cancers – including those in the pancreas and liver – and soft tissue desmoid tumors.

In these last 12 years, the focused ultrasound community – as well as the body of knowledge around this innovative therapy – has grown immeasurably. I am proud to have contributed to this by growing numbers of patients treated in the clinical setting, and, thanks to my persistence, the possibility of seeing light at the end of the tunnel. This light has come in the form of histotripsy as a wonderful tool to perform fast, more precise, tissue selection and treatments to enhance the immune system.

Despite all that we have learned, there is still much that we don’t yet understand about focused ultrasound’s vast potential, including how it can be used to modulate the immune system. We are also working to push the technology beyond its known limits to help more and more patients for whom there are no good treatment options.

The Foundation’s biennial Symposium plays a critical role in bringing the research community together and reinforcing the importance of our work. Many in the community work in organizations where focused ultrasound is still not widely known, and that can become isolating. This meeting creates a sense of community for us and reminds us we're collectively transforming medicine, advancing science, and improving lives.

This week won’t be the same as those in years past for a number of reasons. But, it is my hope and my belief that we will be able to overcome the limitations of a virtual meeting and use this time to grow knowledge, connect, and collaborate. As a passionate man from the Mediterranean sea, I will miss personal interaction with all of you, but better times will come and we will meet then.

Joan Vidal-Jové, MD, PhD
Director, Comprehensive Tumor Center Barcelona
Institut Khuab for Interventional Oncology 
2020 Symposium Honorary President