Our story

We’re Iconeus – a Paris-based company helping researchers to gain new insights into neuroscience using our groundbreaking functional ultrasound technology.
Read on to find out about our story: how we got started, and the progress we’ve made in transforming fUS from theory to reality.

Picture of Pierre curie, our story
“…all our research was carried out at the Ecole de Physique et de Chimie de la Ville de Paris. In all scientific production, the environment that we work in has a major impact, and a part of the results we achieve is due to this impact”
- Pierre Curie

Iconeus: Our academic beginnings

Looking back on the origins of Iconeus, it’s amazing how quickly it all happened. In 2011, a team led by Professor Mickael Tanter, at ESPCI Paris, published a paper introducing functional ultrasound (Macé et al., Nature Methods, 2011). In it, they proposed that very high framerates would radically improve Doppler imaging sensitivity, enabling measurement of blood volumes in smaller vessels than previously possible.

Taking benefit of this 50-fold increase in sensitivity, they also demonstrated that such ‘ultrafast ultrasound’ can exploit the neurovascular coupling. This allowed them to carry out functional imaging of brain activity, with the first stunning movies acquired using fUS imaging being obtained in rodents.

In subsequent years, Tanter’s team released a succession of papers, written in collaboration with several neuroscience teams. In particular, with Dr. Zsolt Lenkei and Dr. Bruno Osmanski, also at ESPCI Paris, they demonstrated the capacity of fUS to image functional connectivity in rat brains in a minimally invasive way (for example, see Osmanski et al., Nature Communications, 2014).

Together with their colleagues Dr. Mathieu Pernot and Dr. Thomas Deffieux, international experts in biomedical ultrasound, Tanter and Lenkei realized the enormous potential of fUS imaging for neuroscience, so in 2016 they founded Iconeus, with the aim of making the technology commercially available to a global audience.

Mickael Tanter, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Advisor
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Mickael is an INSERM Research Professor and a Distinguished Professor at ESPCI Paris, where he heads the ‘Physics for Medicine’ laboratory. He is an elected member of the European Academy of Science, and a co-founder of medtech companies Supersonic Imagine and Cardiawave.

Zsolt Lenkei, M.D., Ph.D.

Senior Neuroscience Advisor
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Zsolt is an INSERM Research Director and a team leader at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurosciences of Paris. He has a research background in neuroscience, with a specialism in the neuronal cell biology of cannabinoid receptors.

Mathieu Pernot, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Advisor
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Mathieu is Deputy Director of the INSERM “Physics for Medicine” unit at ESPCI Paris. He has a research background in physics, held a position at medtech company SuperSonic Imagine and is co-founder of Cardiawave.

Thomas Deffieux, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Advisor
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Thomas is an INSERM Research Associate Professor, and has a research background in ultrafast ultrasound imaging, and the development of wave physics for biomedical imaging and therapy.
To ensure the company got off to a strong start, they invited the health-industry specialist Ludovic Lecointre (now CEO) and the Tanter Lab alumnus Dr Bruno Osmanski (now CTO) to be co-founders.
Ludovic Lecointre, Pharm.D.

Ludovic Lecointre, Pharm.D.

Chief Executive Officer
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Ludovic’s background is in chemistry and pharmaceutical industry, and before 2003 he held executive R&D positions at pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Parke-Davis and Pfizer. More recently, he ran his own healthcare company (13 employees, €3.5 million in annual sales) for 12 years, and at the same time worked for the French national health agency, as an expert on drug chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC).
Bruno Osmanski, Ph.D.

Bruno Osmanski, Ph.D.

Chief Technical Officer
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Bruno graduated in 2010 from ESPCI Paris, and the same year obtained a Masters in fundamental acoustics. He received his Ph.D. in 2014, during which he studied ultrafast imaging for blood flow applications, including fUS imaging of the brain. Following this, he joined INSERM, where he investigated the mechanisms of neurovascular coupling using fUS, fMRI and two-photon imaging.

Refining and field-testing fUS imaging

Since our foundation in 2016, we’ve worked on a number of INSERM patents on fUS technology (four of which are now exclusively licensed to us), have benefited from an Advanced ERC Grant, and have been part of the ESPCI Paris ‘PC Up’ incubator program.

All this has provided the resources to take functional ultrasound from the physics bench to being ready for the marketplace, by making the software easy to use, improving the instrument design, obtaining the necessary certifications, and by helping over 10 collaborators to field-test prototypes of Iconeus One in their labs as part of our ‘early adopter’ program (and publish their results, too).

All this effort has borne fruit, and in October 2019 we were thrilled to formally launch Iconeus One at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago – a great day for all of us!
picture of Iconeus at Iconeus SFN2019
picture of ESPCI

Part of a distinguished history of innovation

Remarkably, functional ultrasound is not the first advance in ultrasound to be pioneered at ESPCI Paris, because it was here in 1881 that Pierre Curie first demonstrated the reverse piezoelectric effect, which is the foundation of all modern ultrasound technologies. 

As well as being the home of Pierre and Marie Curie (who shared the Nobel Prize in 1903 for their work on radioactivity), ESPCI Paris has seen many other discoveries that feature in our lives today, including the neon tube, black box flight recorder, quartz watch, wireless technology, and self-healing rubber. It’s a long tradition, and one that we’re proud to continue!

Looking to the future: Helping you benefit from fUS

Today, we’re as committed as ever to helping neuroscientists uncover new insights into brain function and diseases using the remarkable capabilities of functional ultrasound. Even in the short time since the technology became available, researchers have shed light on everything from basic brain functions to neuropsychiatric pathologies and possible treatments.

The future promises more excitement too – including the prospect of 4D functional ultrasound!

Perhaps your lab could benefit from functional ultrasound? We’d be delighted to hear about your needs, and talk about how we might be able to help.

Iconeus is supported by:

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