Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Brian E. O'Neill

Brian E. O'Neill, Ph.D.


Brian E. O'Neill, Ph..D

Brian E. O’Neill, Ph.D.

Assistant Member
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute

E-mail: beoneill@houstonmethodist.org
Phone: 713-441-8695


Ph.D. University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada (Applied Physics)

Postdoctoral Training

Research Fellowship, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO; National Institutes of Health, Molecular Imaging Laboratory, Bethesda, MD.



During graduate studies at the University of Windsor, Dr. O’Neill research involved applications of non-linear ultrasound to the non-destructive testing problem in industry. Shortly after graduation, Dr. O’Neill was awarded a research fellowship by the National Research Council of the U.S. Academy of Sciences. Under this program, he spent over two years studying the biophysical effects of pulsed high intensity focused ultrasound for application in targeted drug delivery, first at the Boulder, CO campus of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and then at the National Institutes of Health. In August 2007, he joined The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, where he continues his research into this problem.

Description of Research

Much of Dr. O’Neill’s current research involves the use of externally applied physical energies with the goal of promoting local drug delivery and uptake. He seeks to do this in two ways. First is to reversibly and locally manipulate tissue transport and gene expression to enhance drug penetration or produce targets for pharmaceuticals, thus altering the biodistribution and pharmocokinetics of the therapeutic agent. Second is to manipulate the properties of drug carrying vehicles, such as liposomes, to promote drug release once they have accumulated in the target area. Possible physical energies include ultrasound, light, RF, and magnetic. Other research involves the synergistic interaction of ultrasound and drugs, novel photo-acoustic contrast agents, and ultrasound based molecular imaging.

Major Areas of Research

Targeted drug delivery, biophysics of high intensity ultrasound, remote control drug release, ultrasonic molecular imaging, and photo-acoustics.

Recent Publications

O'Neill BE, Karmonik C, Li KCP. An optimum method for pulsed high intensity focused ultrasound treatment of large volumes using the InSightec ExAblate® 2000 system. Phys Med Biol 55, 6395–6410 (2010). DOI: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/21/004 

Kim Y.-S, Rubio V, Qi J, Xia R, Shi Z.-Z, Peterson L, Tung C.-H, O'Neill BE. Cancer treatment using an optically inert Rose Bengal derivative combined with pulsed focused ultrasound. J Control Release 156, 315–322 (2011). DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2011.08.016 

O'Neill BE, Rapoport N. Phase-shift, stimuli-responsive drug carriers for targeted delivery. Ther Deliv 2, 1165–1187 (2011). DOI: 10.4155/tde.11.81 

Qin G, Li Z, Xia R, Li F, O'Neill BE, Goodwin JT, Khant HA, Chiu W, Li KC. Partially polymerized liposomes: stable against leakage yet capable of instantaneous release for remote controlled drug delivery. Nanotechnology 22, 155605 (2011). DOI: 15/155605 

Sun Y, Jiang H, O’Neill BE. Photoacoustic Imaging: An Emerging Optical Modality in Diagnostic and Theranostic Medicine. Journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2, 108 (2012). DOI: 10.4172/2155-6210.1000108 

O'Neill BE, Karmonik C, Sassaroli E, Li KC. Estimation of thermal dose from MR thermometry during application of non-ablative pulsed high intensity focused ultrasound. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (epub ahead of print),  (2012). DOI: 10.1002/jmri.23526 

Sassaroli E, Li K, O’Neill BE. Radio frequency absorption in gold nanoparticle suspensions: a phenomenological study. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics (accepted),  (2012). 

Sassaroli E, Li KCP, O'Neill BE. Modeling Focused Ultrasound Exposure for the Optimal Control of Thermal Dose Distribution. The Scientific World Journal (accepted),  (2012).