Surgical success Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Health and Life Sciences

After Euan S. Thomson lost two grandparents and his stepfather to cancer, his career path was set.

Today, as president and CEO of Accuray Inc., he is devoted to the treatment of cancer through the use of his company’s product, CyberKnife, a robotic radiosurgery device that noninvasively destroys cancerous tumors with high doses of ionizing radiation.

The product has been hugely successful, leading to an IPO in 2007, but it wasn’t always that way. When Thomson arrived at the company in 2002, it had had three CEOs since its 1990 founding and had only a few months of operating capital left. But he believed in the company and was prepared to take big risks to make it successful.

To do that, he developed Accuray’s financial and business strategy and guided its clinical development program, technical R&D, and sales and marketing. He targeted European countries and invested in clinical studies to get the product approved for commercial use across the pond.

Closer to home, he instituted a corporate culture focused on high ethical and moral standards, which includes encouraging employees to participate in philanthropic activities that focus on cancer research, and a patent award program that recognizes those who contribute to product innovation.

Thomson’s efforts quickly paid off. Within a year of him assuming leadership, Accuray became cash-flow positive for the first time in its history. The company has installed more than 150 of its CyberKnife systems in 17 countries, and it has treated more than 60,000 patients for not only brain tumors — the original use of the product — but for lung, spine, liver, pancreas and prostate tumors, as well.

And to further encourage the use of his product, Thomson has implemented a marketing plan to partner with hospitals to guarantee their return on investment in his product, allowing them to reduce their cost of health care and treat more patients.

How to reach: Accuray Inc., (408) 716-4600 or