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An MUSC blog
Date: Jan 8, 2015

One of the latest developments in laser technology, stereotactic laser ablation, is now enabling neurosurgeons at the MUSC Medical Center to treat brain lesions and tumors that were previously inaccessible. In December, they used Visualase (Medtronic, Inc., Minneapolis, MN), an MRI-guided laser system, to remove tumor tissue in the brain of an adult male. He was able to leave the hospital the next day due to the fact that the procedure was minimally invasive. In the past, a patient with his type of lesion would have required an open craniotomy and would have spent a week recovering in the hospital. Instead, with this new technology, surgeons use a small hand drill to make a 3.2 mm opening in the skull and then thread in a 1.65 mm flexible laser applicator.  The small incision is typically closed with one suture.

More importantly, the Visualase technology enables the surgeon to reach deeper regions of the brain, target tumors precisely, and protect healthy tissue by monitoring the temperature of the tumor and the surrounding tissue.

The Visualase system is used in hospitals throughout the United States but only at MUSC Health in South Carolina. In children, the device has also been used to treat brain lesions that cause epilepsy. 

Two recent recognitions by prestigious national organizations testify to the spirit of entrepreneurialism at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

In December 2014, MUSC took the No. 4 spot in the category of universities on the Patent Power 2014 Scorecard (available online), a roundup of the companies and universities with the strongest patent portfolios. The Scorecard is published by the International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) association, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology. The top three universities include No. 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by University of California and Harvard University. The formula to determine overall “Pipeline Power” starts with the number of U.S. patents an organization receives during the preceding year and weights that based on metrics that reflect the growth, impact, originality, and generality of the organization’s patent portfolio. MUSC’s debut appearance in the top tier of the annual listing spotlights the overall strength of its patent portfolio, which is managed by MUSC Foundation for Research Development (FRD), the university’s technology transfer office. "This ranking is an acknowledgement of the cutting-edge research being performed at MUSC and captured in FRD's patent portfolio. It highlights why MUSC is a great choice for industry partnerships,” said FRD Associate Director Jesse Goodwin. To search a database of currently available technologies, visit

Also in December, Bärbel Rohrer, Ph.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at MUSC’s Storm Eye Institute, was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).  Only 414 American inventors currently hold this distinction. NAI fellows are named inventors on U.S. patents and are nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

Rohrer, who specializes in diseases of the retina, holds two U.S. patents and five international patents, with an additional 23 applications pending. Her intellectual property provided the foundation for three start-up companies, with a major pharmaceutical company acquiring her first company and her co-founding the next two companies. To learn more about one of those companies, MitoChem, read “Four MUSC Start-Up Companies That Are Changing Care” in the Research section of the MUSC Health Year in Review.

To learn more about research and clinical innovation at MUSC, subscribe to Progressnotes, MUSC’s quarterly medical magazine.

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