STONY BROOK, N.Y., August 25, 2004—Paul C. Lauterbur, Ph.D., who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his pioneering research conducted while he was a faculty member at Stony Brook University, will return to the campus for the first time next month. Dr. Lauterbur’s work in the 1970s led to his development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which helped transform medicine and led last year to the first Nobel Prize ever given for research done at Stony Brook.
Dr. Lauterbur will participate in a re-dedication of the original MRI device, which had been on display in the Chemistry Building for decades. The re-furbished display will be unveiled in a ceremony at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, September 21. He also will speak as part of the Presidential Lecture Series at the Charles Wang Center Theatre on at 4:00 PM. His presentation, “To There and Back Again: Adventures from Molecules to Man and Back,” will partly focus on his journey of discovery as a Professor of Chemistry at Stony Brook. He also held an appointment as a Professor of Radiology.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Lauterbur back,” said Shirley Strum Kenny, President of Stony Brook University. “It is because of his research, done here at Stony Brook, that millions of lives have been improved due to this breakthrough in healthcare technology.”
“I am looking forward to going back to Stony Brook, seeing many of my old colleagues, and returning to the laboratory where the first MRI experiments were done,” Dr. Lauterbur said. “I appreciate President Kenny’s invitation and I’m sure a lot of old memories are going to be stirred up again.”
Lauterbur, who is now on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, realized that by varying the strength of the magnetic field and analyzing the frequencies of resulting radio signals, he could use nuclear magnetic resonance create a two or three-dimensional picture. This advance laid the foundation for what would become MRI.
The research began in 1971 when Dr. Lauterbur watched as colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to examine tissue cut from a cancerous tumor. Two years later, in 1973, the British scientific journal Nature published an article by Dr. Lauterbur describing an NMR technique for taking three-dimensional pictures of body organs and vessels, without the use of ionized radiation or toxic dyes. It was this technique that was used as the basis for the manufacture of MRI equipment.