UVA is a world leader in focused-ultrasound research where Jeffrey Elias, MD, and Wynn Legon, PhD, are leading the development of high-intensity focused ultrasound technology, which has exciting potential for drug delivery and to treat an array of neurological disorders non-invasively. The future of focused ultrasound research expands into the field of targeted drug and gene delivery and neuromodulation for anxiety, depression, addiction and pain. In addition, UVA's Biomedical Engineering Department is a hub for MRI technology developments that serve to improve the quality and precision of focused ultrasound therapies.
Focused ultrasound modulation offers a promising approach to treat and potentially cure intractable pain, thus offering relief for many patient and the prevention of opioid addiction. The first human study of focused ultrasound for pain at UVA was opened to enrollment in January 2018.
UVA Focused Ultrasound in the News:
'Innovator of the Year' Pioneers Procedure to Treat Essential Tremor
Our Brain Focused Ultrasound and Neuromodulation Team:
Jeffrey Elias, MD, was named the 2018 Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year by the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group. This award is given to university faculty members whose research is making a major impact on society. Elias is recognized for pioneering the use of focused ultrasound and is now studying applications of this minimally invasive therapy for pain and addiction.
Wynn Legon, PhD, joined the UVA Department of Neurological Surgery in September 2017. The Legon lab researches non-invasive neuromodulation techniques in humans and animal preparations including transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Dr. Legon's research demonstrates that tFUS can be targeted to spatially discrete regions of the brain. You can read more about his lab's research in one of their recent publications here.
Wendy Lynch, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. Her laboratory uses behavioral, pharmacological, and molecular techniques to delineate the neurobiological basis of addiction. Her lab's work has shown that females are more vulnerable than males to the reinforcing effects of drugs during the different phases of the addiction process including acquisition, maintenance, escalation, and relapse. They are examining a number of biological factors that may underlie these sex differences including hormones, age, dopaminergic signaling, as well as interactions between these factors. She is also interested in pharmacotherapies for treating addiction. The use of animal models is critical to determining the process by which potential medications for treating drug addiction exert their behavioral-pharmacological effects. Such information will help guide the development and use of medications for drug addiction treatment in humans.
Jill Venton, PhD, an Associate Professor of Chemistry, is interested in the development and characterization of analytical techniques to measure neurochemical changes. Her lab aims to study the real-time release of many different neurotransmitters simultaneously to better understand the normal and diseased functioning of the brain.