By  Charles Feigenoff

In 2011, the University of Virginia's Jeffrey Elias, a neurosurgeon at UVA Health, was among the first in the world to use focused ultrasound technology to treat patients with essential tremor, a condition akin to Parkinson's disease that affects up to 10 million Americans. Ten years later, UVA has become an epicenter for focused ultrasound technology, which uses concentrated, high-intensity soundwaves to generate heat so a physician — guided by an MRI machine — can target specific areas without damaging surrounding tissue. It is less invasive than traditional surgical options, with fewer side effects and shorter recovery times. While UVA neurosurgeons are pioneering the use of focused ultrasound to treat tremor, epilepsy, cancer and more, behind the scenes, experts like Craig Meyer are working to expand the capabilities of the MRI guidance systems used to manage the surgical procedure. Meyer, a professor in UVA's Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to increase the speed and enhance the safety of focused ultrasound therapy for the treatment of essential tremor.