Devices & Diagnostics

Advanced imaging firm Imalux hires ex-Philips executive as COO

Advanced medical imaging company Imalux has hired a former executive with Philips Healthcare for its newly created position of chief operating officer. James Fulton has joined the Cleveland-based provider of advanced medical imaging systems and will hold the title of president in addition to COO, according to a statement from the company. Fulton is a […]

Advanced medical imaging company Imalux has hired a former executive with Philips Healthcare for its newly created position of chief operating officer.

James Fulton has joined the Cleveland-based provider of advanced medical imaging systems and will hold the title of president in addition to COO, according to a statement from the company. Fulton is a 30-year healthcare veteran, most recently holding the title of general manager of Philips’s computer tomography business unit.

Imalux’s Niris Imaging System uses near-infrared light to produce high-resolution images of tissues in the body through a process called optical coherence tomography (OCT). The resolution of the Niris cross-sectional images is about 100 times higher than those produced by ultrasound, which uses sound instead of light waves to create images. Some early adopters of the technology — delivered through a light-emitting probe — used it to detect bladder cancer tumors and preserve nerves and blood vessels during prostate surgery.

Chairman and CEO Bill Sanford said Fulton’s “extensive market development experience in the successful introduction of new imaging technologies and systems will be invaluable and will contribute greatly to the achievement of our accelerated growth plans.”

Last month, Imalux received a $1 million grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier technology acceleration program to assist in commercializing the Niris system.

Ten-year-old Imalux has an interesting if sometimes difficult history. The company has raised more than $16 million in venture funding and received initial (pdf) U.S. Food and Drug clearance to begin marketing the Niris system back in 2004. However, commercializing the system has been a long, tough slog because the company found that, after regulatory clearance, it needed further clinical validation.

Sanford, a key figure in Northeast Ohio’s healthcare industry who helped found STERIS, ran through Imalux’s history in a talk earlier this year for the Ohio Venture Association. This excellent summary (hat tip to John Ettorre) of the talk should be required reading for healthcare entrepreneurs about the importance of vigorously questioning their own assumptions. Here’s a piece of Sanford’s remarks:

The management team believed that if they just got the system into the marketplace, people would buy it. “And a few people bought it. But people were asking dumb questions, like ‘who’s using it?’ ‘What do they use it for?’ ” The company began looking for additional investors, primarily strategic, who delivered some disappointing news: They needed additional clinical validation.