Seung-Schik Yoo: "Low-intensity Transcranial Focused Ultrasound – a New Kid on the Neuromodulation Block" (BRAINMAP)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 12:00 to 13:00


Focused ultrasound (FUS), with its exquisite ability to deliver acoustic energy to a region-specific brain area with excellent depth penetration, has debuted as a new mode of non-invasive, non-pharmacological neuromodulation modality, applicable for both the peripheral and central nervous system. The pulsed application of FUS to regional brain areas has bimodal, i.e. either excitatory or suppressive, effects on the central nervous system. In the peripheral nervous systems, FUS also appears to initiate/disrupt the nerve conduction or stimulate the nerve endings. An accumulating body of studies on examining the neuromodulatory potentials, including ours, has covered a wide spectrum of information from neural cells, ex vivo neural tissues, invertebrates, small/large animals, non-human primates, and humans. Although the underlying neuromodulatory mechanism of FUS is not clearly understood, efforts are being made to debunk the fundamental working principles behind the phenomena. Combinatory use of existing therapeutic ultrasound techniques, along with development of the novel utility of FUS beyond neuromodulation, is anticipated to expand its true potentials.




Seung-Schik is an associate professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, and is a director of Neuromodulation and Tissue Engineering Laboratory (NTEL), Brigham and Women's Hospital. He also serves as a faculty member of Mind Brain Behavior at Harvard University.  He received his Ph.D. in Radiological Science from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) after graduating from Johns Hopkins University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He started working at BWH since 1994 as a student, and has served in many committees and services, for example, as a director of BWH functional MRI Service.


He has done early pioneering works in developing real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging that are used to interpret the human mind, and applied the technology to interface the brain function with machines and computers. The main focus of his current research is in exploring a new mode of non-invasive brain stimulation modality which utilizes the focused ultrasound to control regional neural functions, including the activity of the brain. He is primarily interested in advancing the technique for various neurotherapeutics, but also likes to seek out new ways to link thoughts/brain processes between individuals.


He is a fellow and a recipient of Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research and the Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative (MBB) faculty award from Harvard College. He recently nominated for Jolesz Memorial Award from Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation for his contributions to the field. Seung-Schik's research interest also includes development and application of a three-dimensional bioprinter that can produce artificial biological tissues and organoids for potential applications in neural computers and medical applications. He has been conducting extensive collaborations in 3D bioprinting in various disciplines, including stem cell research.