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These 3 specialties at UVa Medical Center ranked among 'world's best'

Three specialties at the University of Virginia Medical Center are among the top in the world, according to new rankings for 2024.

Out of the tens of thousands of hospitals worldwide, Newsweek magazine placed these three specialities among it’s “world’s best”:

Neurosurgery at No. 61.

Oncology at No. 185.

And cardiology at No. 248.

Those three also earned top marks in Virginia, according to Newsweek, with neurosurgery and oncology ranking No. 1 in the commonwealth.

“Newsweek’s rankings are based on an international survey that invited the participation of tens of thousands of medical professionals, along with hospital data that includes accreditations and certifications,” UVa Health said in a statement announcing the rankings.

UVa credited developments it has made in all three specialties for the new rankings.

In neurosurgery, UVa Health has pioneered focused ultrasound — a incision-free form of brain surgery — to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms and essential tremor, the health system said.

The UVa Focused Ultrasound Cancer Immunotherapy Center is the first such center in the world, where multiple clinical trials are currently underway examining the addition of the therapy to existing immunotherapy treatments.

Focused ultrasound could greatly expand the types of tumor that respond to immunotherapy, according to Natasha Sheybani, research director at the UVa Focused Ultrasound Cancer Immunotherapy Center.

“I would liken [focused ultrasound] to the concept of taking a magnifying glass out on a hot day and basically shining a bunch of rays of light through the glass such that you can burn a hole in a leaf,” Sheybani said at a UVa Lifetime Learning webinar in June. “You’ve projected all of that energy into a single focus. We’re doing the same thing with sound waves here.”

In oncology, “UVA Cancer Center is just one of 54 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers for its internationally recognized research along with highly specialized patient care,” UVa Health said in its statement.

At the start of the year, the center established new partnerships to expand cancer screening access across the commonwealth.

The partnerships are with three regional community health centers — Central Virginia Health Services, Tri-Area Community Health and Blue Ridge Medical Center — and are supported through $500,000 grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve equity in cancer screenings, UVa Health said in a statement at the time.

The three health centers serve all patients, regardless of insurance or ability to pay, the health system said.

“It was a major success helping hundreds of patients in our communities,” Dr. Randall Bashore, clinical director for Central Virginia Health Services, said in the statement. “I’m excited that we now have the opportunity to expand on that experience working with UVa and Tri-Area Community Health to address both colon and breast cancer screening.”

In cardiology, UVa Health lauded the recent research breakthroughs that have been made at the medical center including the discovery that a common chemotherapy drug could prevent heart failure.

Last month, UVa Health announced that a powerful new drug-screening tool developed at UVa by researchers Jeffrey J. Saucerman and Taylor G. Eggertsen found the drug midostaurin — typically used to fight bone marrow cancer — could help prevent the enlargement of heart muscle cells that often precedes heart failure, and subsequent lab results bore that out.

“This new computer tool helps us find new uses for old drugs, and it also explains how they may work in the heart,” Saucerman said in a statement. “New drugs take decades to develop. We hope this tool will help us find drugs for heart failure that are already known to be safe and effective for other diseases.”

UVa Health CEO K. Craig Kent congratulated his team on the Newsweek rankings.

“An important part of our 10-year strategic plan is creating ‘destination’ patient care programs that draw patients from across Virginia and beyond,” Kent said in a statement. “These awards from Newsweek highlight that we are approaching that work with a strong foundation of high-quality, specialized care.”

His words were echoed by Wendy Horton, CEO of the university medical center.

“These honors from Newsweek exemplify the groundbreaking, excellent care provided by our team every day,” Horton said in her own statement. “I am thrilled to see the hard work of our team recognized with these international awards.”


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