Drs. Jeff Elias and Wynn Legon, Phd are leading the development of high-intensity focused ultrasound technology, which has exciting potential for drug delivery and to treat tumors, stroke, and movement disorders non-invasively. Dr. Elias’s clinical trial to treats patients with Essential Tremor is believed to have been the first intracranial therapeutic application of the technology in the world, and its favorable results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Elias is currently enrolling patients in a trial to treat Parkinson’s and multiple other focused ultrasound trials are enrolling or in development. The Legon lab also researches non-invasive neuromodulation techniques in humans and animal preparations including transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Drs. Jason Sheehan and Zhiyuan Xu’s laboratory researches methods to improve the safety and feasibility of non-invasive transcranial focused ultrasound technology in treating intracranial tumors. Also, we explores the feasibility of using sonosensitizers stimulated with focused ultrasound which is termed sonodynamic therapy to treat glioblastomas and other brain tumors.
We are also active in other areas of research including Epilepsy, stroke, and more. Dr. Petr Tvrdik’s lab researches neurovascular conditions such as stroke, aneurysm and vascular malformations in animals and humans, including identification of RNA biomarkers and understanding neural stem cells and regeneration.
The neuro-oncology, neurovascular and spine areas are involved in most all major national clinical trials. Clinical trials are critical to finding better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat neurological disorders. They help us to move basic scientific research from the laboratory into actual treatments that help patients. Patients coming to UVA can have a better chance of successful treatment because UVA runs and participates in many clinical trials.
Our department chairman Mark Shaffrey is the hands-on medical director of our trials office that also has an administrative director, 5 clinical research coordinators, and several more dedicated support staff. We have recently been conducting or collaborating on new drug and device trials with NIH, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, GE Healthcare, Genentech, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Medtronic, Amgen, and with many smaller companies on the cusp of medical breakthroughs.
You can learn more about all clinical trials being performed by all specialties across UVA at the UVA clinical trials search page.
Donate to Our Research
We’ve had many grateful patients and philanthropists help support our Neurosurgery and Neuroscience research at UVA. Without them, we would not have accomplished so much.
As an example, a patient came to UVa’s top ranked Neuroendocrine team for surgery to remove a pituitary tumor. He was so impressed with the care he received that he decided to help advance UVa’s research into finding better treatments for the disease. His gifts of more than $200,000 have helped our neurosurgeons and endocrinologists devise a way to genetically map a tumor’s DNA, giving vital clues to why pituitary tumors form, and to help discover and clone a receptor that may be a target for new therapies to stop tumor growth.
“The pace of our research, and the milestones we’ve reached, would not be possible without the help of such donors,” says leading endocrinologist Michael Thorner. “Private support seeds promising research and allows investigators to explore novel ideas. With help from donors, we are developing a strategy for defeating pituitary tumors. We are working toward a cure.”