Sunnybrook recognized as a Centre of Excellence in focused ultrasound
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is honoured to recognize Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto as a Centre of Excellence.
“With an unparalleled team of scientists and clinicians, Sunnybrook has been in the vanguard of focused ultrasound innovation, making groundbreaking progress on many fronts,” says Foundation chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “They are a model for other sites — not only because of their world-class knowledge and experience, but also for the collaborations that they have forged with institutions across specialties and geographies.”
Sunnybrook has one of the most comprehensive and successful focused ultrasound (FUS) research programs in the world, with technical, scientific, and clinical experts accelerating progress. The Centre is led by pioneering physicist Kullervo Hynynen, PhD and neurosurgeon and scientist Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD. “In one institution, we have all of the key players and expertise to advance a pipeline from hypothesis to idea generation, technical development, preclinical modeling, and on to clinical trials and commercial treatment,” says Lipsman. “I think that it is truly unprecedented.”
The support for FUS emanates from the top. “Focused ultrasound is one of the jewels in the crown at Sunnybrook,” says Barry McLellan, Sunnybrook’s President and CEO. “Our vision as an academic health sciences centre is to invent the future of health care, and we believe that with focused ultrasound, we truly are inventing the future. This is not just for the patients we treat here; we are having an impact around the globe.”
There are 10 principal investigators leading studies to advance focused ultrasound at Sunnybrook. With them are dozens of highly skilled technical, engineering, biological sciences, and clinical research personnel. Much of the work is conducted under the umbrella of Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics, which spans 150,000 square feet of laboratories, facilities, and clinical space. They have several MRI systems (3T and 7T preclinical), custom FUS systems, a Philips body system, and an Insightec Neuro brain system. The Canadian government has contributed $75 million to the Centre, with an additional $86 million in private and institutional investment.
Sunnybrook’s program includes research in neurology, neurosurgery, urology, orthopedics, gynecology, radiation oncology, and biomedical engineering. Dr. Hynynen credits the teamwork within the institution and across the field for creating such a research powerhouse. “To help get focused ultrasound to benefit as many patients as possible, we are very open to collaboration,” he says. In the past five years, he has had more than 80 papers published with an excess of 160 investigators from over 30 institutions. Dr. Hynynen adds, “This work cannot be done at just one centre, and that is where I see the Focused Ultrasound Foundation as being so instrumental in stimulating collaboration and progress.”
The team is making headway in two parallel tracks: enhancing the technical side of focused ultrasound to make it as safe, efficient, and as widely accessible as possible; and expanding clinical applications by identifying the medical conditions that are the most appropriate for employing the technology.