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The Making of Medicine

Focused Ultrasound Work Earns Jeff Elias Innovator of the Year

The UVA Licensing & Ventures Group has named Dr. Jeff Elias the Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year for his pioneering work with focused ultrasound. The award recognizes a UVA faculty member whose work is making a major impact on society, and Dr. Elias’ certainly is.

Dr. Elias is basically the father of focused ultrasound for the treatment of essential tremor, the most common movement disorder. He led the international clinical trial testing the approach, which uses focused sound waves to disrupt circuits in the brain that cause uncontrollable shaking. Dr. Elias can actually watch as patients’ tremor decreases. It’s brain surgery without a scalpel, as there’s no need to cut into the skull. I recently witnessed a procedure, and it’s something to see.

Now that the procedure has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for essential tremor, Dr. Elias is investigating its potential for managing the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. Other researchers here are looking at the technology’s potential to treat other conditions, such as metastatic breast cancer (meaning breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Jeff Elias as the 2018 Innovator of the Year. His understanding of focused ultrasound technology and its adaptation for the treatment of essential tremor have made a remarkable impact not only for his patients but on the field of neurosurgery,” said Michael Straightiff, executive director of the Licensing & Ventures Group. “Elias is leading the way for innovative clinicians in translational research at UVA, and we are thrilled to recognize his accomplishments with this award.”

I’m thrilled they have as well. Congratulations, Dr. Elias. You deserve it.

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