Zoom On: Dr. Neal Kassell, Founder and Chairman - Focused Ultrasound Foundation

All progress depends on the unreasonable man.
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Neal F. Kassell, MD, is the founder and chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, the first philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by accelerating the development and adoption of a new medical technology. Dr. Kassell is a Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia, where he served as department co-chair for more than 20 years. Prior to UVA, he was on the faculty at the University of Iowa.

He is a founder of numerous private ventures including Interax, Inc; the Virginia Neurological Institute; Multimedia Medical Systems; the Neuroclinical Trials Center; Neuroventure Fund; and MedSpecialist.  

We asked Dr. Kassell our 7 questions:

1.    What are your key areas of interest and research?
Focused ultrasound to non-invasively treat a range of serious medical conditions.  

2.    What are the major challenges in your field?
•    Getting stakeholders to be patient-centric
•    Getting stakeholders to agree to collaborate
•    Prioritising R&D to determine which bioeffects are most likely to translate into new treatments  and which treatments will add value in terms of improving quality of life and longevity while decreasing overall costs.

3.    What is your top management tip?
In building a small organisation, be uncompromising in populating it with excellence.  Hire all A players, since As attract As and Bs attract Cs.  

4.    What would you single out as a career highlight?
Starting the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, built on my decades of service as a neurosurgeon.  It has been an incredible privilege and responsibility to be involved in the development of an organisation that has the potential to touch so many people.  The scale of impact is tremendous: in my very large medical practice I affected hundreds of patients per year; the research I’ve conducted since 1962 affects thousands of patients; but our work in focused ultrasound may impact hundreds of thousands of people.

5.   If you had not chosen this career path you would have become a…?
There was no other choice.  Neurosurgery chose me…

6.  What are your personal interests outside of work?
Food and wine, Italy, classical music and hiking.

7. Your favourite quote?
When I think about the work we are doing, George Bernard Shaw comes to mind.  He said, "the reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Dr. Kassell is a member of numerous medical societies in the United States and abroad.  He has served in an editorial capacity for a variety of academic journals and has contributed more than 500 publications and book chapters to the literature. Dr. Kassell received his undergraduate and medical education at the University of Pennsylvania.


Focused Ultrasound Foundation


FUS YouTube channel

Further reading

Kassell N. Focused ultrasound and the brain. HealthManagement, 14(4): 16-7.

Published on : Wed, 28 Jan 2015

Neal F. Kassell, MD, is the founder and chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, the first philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by accelerating

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