Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paul Lauterbur, inventor of MRI, dies at 77

A sad day for my profession. My brother Boomer informed me of Paul Lauterbur's death yesterday from kidney disease. I knew he was ill for some time. Paul belatedly won the Nobel Prize in 2003 for this work, which he shared with Peter Mansfield (and not Raymond Damadian, heh).

There was considerable contorversy around the award, mostly stirred up by Damadian (he took out full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers complaining of this 'omission'). Damadian deserves some credit for showing that tissue can have different relaxation mechanisms (by which we get contrast in images), but that was it. He was not a player in the development of MRI and this 'omission' was warranted.

I remember Paul speaking when I was an undergrad at the U of S in Saskatoon. It was a memorable talk. He was one of those animated speakers that could make watching grass grow a riveting subject. Mind you, this was very young in the history of MRI and it was an already interesting subject. While my own current use of MRI comes more from the point of view of spectroscopy, it did kindly my interest in the subject. He was one of those brilliant and dedicated scientists that made significant changes to the way we do things.

Paul passed away yesterday at the age of 77.


Matt said...

That's too bad. I didn't know. I guess you can't ask for much more than to have such a major influence on society that continues after you've died...

boomer said...

Agreed... I've decided that my goal in life should be to leave the world a better place than it would have been had I never existed. I'm still working on it =)