New Siemens nuclear chiefputs emphasis on product R&D

February 28, 1996

Vendor is developing variable-angle gamma cameraThe new head of the nuclear medicine group of Siemens MedicalSystems has a track record for bringing R&D projects to marketquickly, a trait that the Hoffman Estates, IL, group is countingon to

Vendor is developing variable-angle gamma camera

The new head of the nuclear medicine group of Siemens MedicalSystems has a track record for bringing R&D projects to marketquickly, a trait that the Hoffman Estates, IL, group is countingon to help it regain its position in the modality.

Barbara Franciose won a reputation for effective R&D managementas head of the U.S. digital imaging division in Siemens' angiographybusiness unit. She hopes to transfer that experience to the nuclearmedicine group as it begins to roll out new products this year.

Franciose was tapped in October to replace Thomas Cafarella,who in 1993 began his second stint as head of the nuclear medicinegroup (SCAN 10/25/95 and 7/14/93). Cafarella was brought on boardto revitalize a division that had seen its once-dominant marketposition erode in the face of stiff competition.

The group continued to struggle, however. It announced thedevelopment of a number of new nuclear medicine products, suchas digital detectors and attenuation correction, but was unableto bring those products to market as quickly as its competitors.

Franciose's appointment is an effort to iron out those productcommercialization problems. While head of the angiography businessunit's digital imaging section, she brought new advances to marketon time and on budget. Among her successes was the developmentof the HICOR digital cardiac interventional system, released in1990, that helped Siemens gain over eight points of share in theangiography market, according to Franciose. Other notable productsinclude the Polytron TOP digital image acquisition system andthe ACOM workstation for recording digital cath lab studies onCD-recordable media using the CD-Medical standard jointly developedby Siemens and Philips.

Franciose believes her main challenge at the nuclear medicinegroup is to build a corporate culture that is nimble and can moveproducts to market more quickly. In the angiography unit, theaverage cycle time from product conception to commercializationwas two to two-and-a-half years. In the nuclear medicine division,that cycle time has been over four years, she said.

"The basic (reason that) nuclear is where it is todayis that they weren't able to what I call proactively change,"Franciose said. "They had certain goals and certain missionsbut it wasn't part of the culture to respond quickly to thosemarket changes, so they were more of a sluggish organization."

To make the division more responsive, Siemens has brought innew personnel along with Franciose. They include Wilifred Loeffler,hired last July as vice president of engineering. The group alsoadded nuclear medicine veteran Randy Weatherhead as vice presidentof marketing and hired Georg Obermeyer as vice president of businessadministration and finance.

The moves come as many of the products Siemens has been promisingto deliver are indeed making their way to market. The company'sdigital detectors will begin commercial shipments in this quarter.Its family of Mµsic attenuation correction technology ison schedule as well. Siemens is also working on coincidence detection,both on its own and in partnership with CTI PET Systems (CPS),its joint venture with PET technology developer CTI.

More notable, however, is a variable-angle dual-head gammacamera under development that will finally allow Siemens to gohead-to-head with market leader ADAC Laboratories in this fast-growingsegment.

"We will participate in the variable-angle market,"Franciose said. "We have a lot of development emphasis onthat."

Franciose declined to specify when the system is scheduledto be commercialized.

When it does hit the market, it should help Siemens regainsome of the market share loss that it has experienced in the U.S.The vendor remains strong in the rest of the world, however, accordingto Franciose.

Franciose is bullish on the long-term future of nuclear medicine,especially as a modality that through image fusion techniquescan add metabolic data to images acquired by other modalities.

"Our strengths in Siemens will be that our nuclear medicine(cameras) and our PET scanners will be able to talk to our MRIand therapy machines," Franciose said. "Our machineswill talk to each other, if not be combined in the future."