Professor Gail ter Haar, a renowned expert in the intersection of focused ultrasound and physics, received the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s 2022 Visionary Award.
This award is given every two years at our Symposium to recognize an individual who has created a larger vision for what the future of focused ultrasound may hold and whose effort, passion, and persistence have been crucial to advancing the field. At this year’s event, Prof. ter Haar gave a presentation on her ideas about the future of therapeutic ultrasound and what lessons can be learned from the past.
Prof. ter Haar leads the therapeutic ultrasound team at The Institute for Cancer Research (ICR), where her work centers on understanding how ultrasound interacts with tissue. Her most recent research has involved developing devices and protocols for ultrasound-based treatments of cancer, investigating focused ultrasound for immune stimulation, and using focused ultrasound to treat liver and kidney tumors.
In 2014, her team at ICR – along with colleagues at the Royal Marsden Hospital – were recognized as a Focused Ultrasound Center of Excellence. The group has completed focused ultrasound clinical trials for gynecological tumors and bone pain. Currently, her team is involved in a Foundation-funded trial aiming to use focused ultrasound to resolve twin-twin transfusion syndrome.
Prof. ter Haar is the founding President of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU). She is also an honorary member of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) and the Society of Thermal Medicine (STM), honorary fellow of the American Institute for Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), and fellow of both the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM).
She leads the UK-based ThUNDDAR (Therapy Ultrasound Network for Drug Delivery and Ablation Research) network, which promotes collaboration between British and European groups working with therapeutic ultrasound. Prof. ter Haar is deputy editor of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, associate editor of Ultrasonics, and on the editorial boards of International Journal of Hyperthermia and Medical Physics. She has written five books, 32 book chapters, and more than 250 peer reviewed research papers.
“Gail’s contributions to the field of focused ultrasound are truly immeasurable,” said Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “She has led pioneering basic science and translational research that has ultimately impacted many patient lives. Additionally, her dedication to fostering collaboration among researchers – and creating a means to do so by establishing ISTU – has helped galvanize the focused ultrasound community.”
“I was drawn to ultrasound because of its versatility,” recalled Prof. ter Haar. “There is no other form of energy that cannot only be used to form sophisticated images and stimulate beneficial functional responses in tissue, but also be used to ablate localized targets, all noninvasively. It has been a privilege to be able to work in this field, which requires an understanding of thermal and mechanical effects, and to help develop techniques that have a very real impact on patients’ lives.”
Prof. ter Haar studied physics at Oxford University and received her master’s degree in medical physics from Aberdeen University. She earned her PhD in physics at Guy’s Hospital and holds a DSc in clinical medicine from Oxford.
Previous Visionary Award recipients have included Lawrence Crum, PhD, (2020), Narendra Sanghvi, PhD (2018), Kullervo Hynynen, PhD (2016), and Motti Zisser (2014).
The Foundation’s 8th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound was held October 23-27, 2022.