Imaging execs nurture radiosurgery projects

May 20, 1992

Former Norland vice president of marketing Joel L. Blank and twopartners have entered the fledgling radiosurgery industry withplans to build and operate two freestanding radiosurgery centersin Southern California by early next year.Their company,

Former Norland vice president of marketing Joel L. Blank and twopartners have entered the fledgling radiosurgery industry withplans to build and operate two freestanding radiosurgery centersin Southern California by early next year.

Their company, Radiosurgical Centers of Irvine, CA, has twoprojects in advanced development, one in Orange County and theother in San Diego. The company has been planning the centerssince January. The facilities will be affiliated with area hospitalsand are expected to open in the first quarter of 1993, Blank toldSCAN.

Blank had served as vice president of the MRI division at Diasonics.He moved to Lunar following the purchase of that densitometrycompany by an investment group headed by Diasonics founder andformer chairman Albert S. Waxman (SCAN 5/23/90). Diasonics' MRIdivision was subsequently sold to Toshiba.

Radiosurgery is a method of delivering precise doses of radiationto abnormal tissue in the brain, such as tumors or arteriovenousmalformations, without harming surrounding tissue. Except forthe doses of radiation delivered, the procedure is completelynoninvasive, Blank said.

The gold standard of radiosurgery is the gamma knife, manufacturedby Elekta of Sweden. This system has been used in about 7500 proceduresworldwide, he said.

Imaging services firms such as American Shared Hospital Servicesand American Health Services have taken up the gamma knife aswell. MRI or CT imaging is often used in conjunction with radiosurgeryas a means to localize tumors (SCAN 9/25/91).

Medical imaging is also vital in radiosurgery as a means ofdetermining the suitability of a patient for this procedure, Blanksaid.

"The neuroradiologist is part of the team that makes thatdecision," he said.

Although the radiosurgery industry is still in its infancy,Blank says the first radiosurgery prototypes were developed beforeCT and MRI. There are only two operating radiosurgery centersin California: at the University of California at San Franciscoand at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

Blank's partners in the start-up are Walter Stafford, an attorneywith the law firm Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, and Paul J. Crowe,who has 15 years' experience in the diagnostic imaging industry.Crowe's imaging center firm, Paul J. Crowe & Associates, waspurchased last year by the Group of Chicago (SCAN 3/27/91).

While some financial risk is involved in starting a venturein a new and capital-intensive field like radiosurgery, the procedureshould gain acceptance as the number of applications for it grows,Blank said.

"Opening one radiosurgery center is like (opening) twohigh-field MRs at once," Blank said. "There's some risk,but this is an exciting technology that's coming into more commonuse."

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • At the end of next month, Dr. H. William Strauss willbegin a transition from academia to industry. The director ofnuclear medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and editorof the Journal of Nuclear Medicine will become vice presidentfor diagnostic drug discovery at the Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceuticalresearch institute.

Strauss will probably retain his JNM editorship for one year,however, while the society searches for a replacement, said executiveeditor Francis Mand. During three years as JNM editor, Strausshas played an active role in making the journal more accessibleto readers, increasing international participation and helpingit evolve into the 21st century, Mand said.

  • Rick Smith, vice president of Toshiba America MedicalSystems' ultrasound business until earlier this month (SCAN 5/6/92),has joined competitor Acuson as director of general imaging sales.Smith, a long-time Toshiba executive, will again serve under DanielDugan. Dugan was Smith's predecessor as head of ultrasound atToshiba. He returned to previous employer Acuson a year ago andnow serves as vice president of sales.

Additionally, as part of a general reshuffling of Acuson salesand marketing, Timothy Chaney has been named director of cardiovascularsales. He will work with Thomas Jedrzejewicz, director of marketingfor cardiovascular imaging, who also returned to Acuson from Toshibaearlier this year (SCAN 1/29/92). Clay Larsen serves as directorof marketing for general imaging. General imaging includes themain radiology ultrasound segment, as well as ob/gyn and vascularmarkets.

  • Back at Toshiba, Philip A. Smith, former vice presidentof x-ray and nuclear medicine operations, was reassigned lastweek as vice president of ultrasound business operations. U.S.x-ray sales more than quadrupled for Toshiba during Smith's tenurein that position. Prior to joining Toshiba, Smith was x-ray marketingmanager for GE Medical Systems.

Frank Parker, previously a senior adviser to TAMS presidentKunio Sumikawa, has been named vice president of marketing forCT, MRI, nuclear medicine and x-ray business operations. Parkerjoined TAMS in 1978 as eastern regional manager after serving24 years with Picker International. Toshiba also confirmed WilliamJ. Carrano last week in his position as director of MRI marketing.He was previously acting director of MRI marketing.