Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the brain is central in the diagnosis, determination of response to therapy, and the guidance of targeted therapy for many brain diseases. These include brain tumors and movement disorders such as essential tremor. The research and clinical interests of Timothy J. Kaufmann, M.D., M.S., involve several areas of diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology, including brain tumor imaging in multicenter clinical trials, MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment of the brain for movement disorders and brain tumors, and image-guided spine injections for pain.
- Brain tumor imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is the mainstay of brain tumor diagnosis and of determining response to therapies, for both primary and secondary — or metastatic — brain tumors of various types. Improvements in anatomical and volumetric MR imaging, as well as physiological or functional MRI techniques, which describe aspects of a tumor's biology, are important for improving our diagnoses and for quickly and accurately determining if a particular course of therapy is effective.
- MRI-guided focused ultrasound therapy of the brain. Using specialized ultrasound helmet devices, focused ultrasound can now be used to create targeted changes in the human brain through an intact skull, that is, without an incision. Focal lesions can be created to disrupt dysfunctional neural networks to provide treatment for the movement disorders of essential tremor and Parkinson disease. A different type of focused ultrasound is used to open the blood-brain barrier for diseases including brain tumors. This method facilitates "liquid biopsy" by allowing cell-free tumor DNA to enter the bloodstream where it can be sampled and analyzed. Focused ultrasound can also be applied to facilitate therapeutic agent delivery into a brain tumor. These interventions are MRI-guided and performed with a neurosurgeon. Dr. Kaufmann is involved in the clinical practice and clinical research of focused ultrasound for these purposes, as these techniques are tested and refined for greater usefulness in humans.
Significance to patient care
Imaging in brain tumor clinical trials is crucial for monitoring patients and judging the response of tumors to various experimental therapies. Dr. Kaufmann's expertise has been integral to many multicenter brain tumor clinical trials, for multiple brain tumor types, directing the MR imaging and performing image analysis for these trials.
MRI-guided focused ultrasound of the brain is relatively newly established for movement disorders such as essential tremor and Parkinson disease. Dr. Kaufmann contributes to the ongoing refinement of these interventions for better patient outcomes. Focused ultrasound for blood-brain barrier opening is an even newer and promising technology for understanding brain tumor biology and for treating brain tumors in new ways. Dr. Kaufmann's work is integral to clinical trials using this image-guided intervention.