Skip to main content

$2M Encova grant aids focused ultrasound research at WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute


A $2 million grant from the Encova Foundation of West Virginia is advancing focused ultrasound research by the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute with the potential to transform addiction treatment.

Awarded in conjunction with WVU Day of Giving, the grant supports coordinated efforts to expand focused ultrasound research at the RNI by enrolling additional patients in clinical trials, acquiring more equipment, and hiring skilled personnel.

“In order to advance treatments for this worsening public health crisis, new approaches and ideas must be explored,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the RNI, said. “We are deeply appreciative of the Encova Foundation’s partnership and support as we work to develop innovative treatments that could save lives and develop new addiction treatments.”

The RNI’s innovative use of focused ultrasound to help substance use disorder patients overcome long-term addiction was highlighted via an extended segment on “60 Minutes” in January. The brief outpatient procedure involves applying focused ultrasound waves – guided by MRI technology – to target the nucleus accumbens, a key structure in the brain involved in addiction and anxiety.

RNI researchers launched the world’s first safety and feasibility study involving focused ultrasound neuromodulation for addiction, which demonstrated an immediate and lasting reduction in drug cravings.

The grant not only supports specific RNI research goals but also offers a promising pathway to healing for families in the Mountain State and beyond dealing with the challenges of addiction. West Virginia is at the epicenter of the nation’s opioid epidemic, with one of the country’s highest per capita drug overdose death rates.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Encova Insurance is a comprehensive insurance provider represented by more than 2,000 independent agencies spanning 27 states and Washington, D.C. The company’s investment in focused ultrasound research reflects its commitment to social responsibility and innovation as it strives to transform lives within the communities where its associates, agents and policyholders live and work.

“The cutting-edge treatments that Dr. Rezai and his team are performing are remarkable and desperately needed in West Virginia and other parts of the country to combat addiction,” Encova President and CEO TJ Obrokta Jr. said. “As a company, we strive to give back to the communities we serve, and we are proud to partner with and provide funds to the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.”

Encova has generously supported WVU for more than a decade, providing over $9 million to support WVU academic programs, athletics, facilities, health care and more.

WVU Day of Giving is a 24-hour online fundraising event organized by the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University and its affiliates. This year’s event, held March 20, raised a record $30.4 million from more than 8,500 gifts.

Follow Us

Get social. Connect and Engage.