CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU) — March 16, 2023, marks 50 years since Paul Lauterbur published his paper establishing Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
Lauterbur called this zeugmatography.
Today, we call this MRI.
His first living subject of an MRI scan was a clam.
Lauterbur developed the MRI at Stony Brook University in New York.
He received the Nobel Prize in 2003 for inventing MRI.
Lauterbur joined the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign faculty in 1985.
He served as the first director of the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory.
While the MRI scanner was not developed at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, it is housed in the MRI museum at Beckman Institute.
This first-ever human MRI scanner is called "Big Red."
The initial data notebook and a replica of the Nobel Prize are also on display.
You can visit this display every weekday at the Beckman Institute.
The technical director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Brad Sutton says many Illinoisans were integral to the development of MRI.
This includes Peter Mansfield who shared the Nobel Prize with Paul Lauterbur in 2003 for the invention of MRI. Peter Mansfield was a post-doc at Illinois in the 1960s. Walter Robb and William Edelstein were important at GE to bring MRI from a research tool to the medical imaging workhorse that it is today, and they are both alumni," says Sutton.
Lauterbur shared the Nobel Prize with Sir Peter Mansfield "for their discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging."
His research did not die with MRI.
The last paragraph of Paul Lauterbur’s 1973 paper points to lots of uses of the technology that he envisioned. Many of these are still at the forefront of technology development and just starting to be applied to medicine, such as looking at maps of the chemical compositions of different regions in the body. This is an area of active research at the University of Illinois in the labs of Zhi-Pei Liang in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Fan Lam in Bioengineering," says Sutton.
Sutton says MRI is both special and safe.
In 2001, doctors across the United States voted for MRI as one of the most important medical innovations.
If you are interested in learning more about where this all started, you can attend the Beckman Institute Open House on March 31 and April 1.