W. Jeffrey Elias, MD

Class Year




Posted on: April 10, 2024

Neurosurgeon W. Jeffrey Elias, MD ’94, has been recognized by Modern Healthcare, a leading healthcare publication, as one of its Innovators for 2024 for his pioneering work in the field of focused ultrasound.

Modern Healthcare’s Innovators Awards and recognition program recognizes leaders and organizations driving innovation that improves patient care, achieves measurable results and contributes to the clinical and financial goals of the organization.

The profiles of the honorees are featured in the April 8 issue of MH magazine.

Elias is being honored for his groundbreaking work with focused ultrasound technology that can replace a surgeon’s scalpels with focused sound waves. Instead of requiring a neurosurgeon to cut into a patient’s skull, the technology can focus sound waves deep inside a patient’s brain to disrupt faulty brain circuits. Elias’ pioneering research helped pave the way for the federal Food and Drug Administration to approve the minimally invasive technology as a new treatment option both for essential tremor, a common movement disorder, and for Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

His success with the game-changing approach has attracted national and international attention, drawn patients to UVA Health from around the world, and spurred research into the potential of the technology for many other healthcare applications, such as at UVA Health’s own Focused Ultrasound Cancer Immunotherapy Center. Further, the effects of Elias’ work can be seen in a growing number of hospitals around the globe, where focused ultrasound treatments are improving lives and offering appropriate patients a new, less-invasive treatment alternative to traditional brain surgery.

“I am extremely honored to be recognized by Modern Healthcare, but the innovations with focused ultrasound that occurred at UVA were the results of a highly efficient and competent team working together for several years to produce a new medical procedure for our patients,” said Elias, a professor of neurosurgery and neurology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “It is actually an incredible technology that reaches deep into the brain. without incisions or drilling, to create a life- changing intervention. This is only the beginning, as there are many investigations underway to deliver drugs for cancer or to manipulate the brain’s circuitry to ease pain or stop epilepsy.”

Elias was previously recognized as the Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year for 2018 by UVA’s Licensing & Ventures Group. That award is given to a university faculty member whose research is making a major impact on society.