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wins Nobel Prize
Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
by Bill Wiegand
C. Lauterbur shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
for his pioneering work in magnetic resonance imaging.
Ill. — Paul
C. Lauterbur, a pioneer in the development of magnetic resonance imaging
and a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
has been awarded the 2003 Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He shares the prize with Sir Peter
Mansfield of the University of Nottingham in England. Mansfield was
a research associate in the department of physics at Illinois from 1962-1964.
They were lauded for "seminal discoveries concerning the use of
magnetic resonance to visualize different structures," the Nobel
Assembly at Karolinska Institutet that awards this prize said in its
news release from Stockholm. "These discoveries have led to the
development of modern magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, which represents
a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research."
"Paul Lauterbur’s work is perhaps the most significant medical
diagnostic discovery of the 20th century," said Nancy Cantor, the
chancellor of the Urbana campus. "Every patient who undergoes a
non-invasive medical imaging procedure should thank Paul. His work has
led to revolutionary insights into the functions of the brain and the
workings of the human body."
Lauterbur was among the first scientists to use nuclear magnetic resonance
in the studies of molecules, solutions and solids. He was the first
researcher to produce an image with NMR and apply the technology to
medicine. This led to the development of the magnetic resonance imaging
scanner, which has had a revolutionary impact on the medical profession.
Magnetic resonance imaging works by placing the body in a powerful magnetic
field that causes the nuclei of atoms to align. Pulsing radio waves
cause them to resonate, sending out radio signals. The signals are collected,
interpreted by a computer and assembled into a picture somewhat similar
to an X-ray image.
MRI scanners allow medical specialists to safely diagnose diseases of
the head and neck, spinal cord, pelvic organs, heart and joints without
using invasive surgery or potentially harmful X-rays.
Lauterbur is a Center for Advanced
Study professor of chemistry and holds appointments in the bioengineering program and the Center
for Biophysics and Computational Biology.
Nine Nobel laureates have served on the U. of I. faculty.
Lauterbur joined the U. of I. faculty in 1985, after 22 years at the
State University of New York at Stony Brook. He earned a bachelor’s
degree in chemistry in 1951 from the Case Institute of Technology in
Cleveland, and a doctorate in chemistry in 1962 from the University
Among his other awards are the National Academy of Sciences Award for
Chemistry in Service to Society (2001); the Kyoto Prize from the Inamori
Foundation of Japan in recognition of his lifelong research accomplishments
in advanced technology (1994); the Order of Lincoln Medallion, the state
of Illinois’ highest award (1992); the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia’s
Bower Award for Achievement in Science (1990); the National Medal of
Technology (1988); the National Medal of Science (1987); and the Albert
Lasker Clinical Research Award (1984). He is a member of the National
Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.
funding for Lauterbur's research has come from the U.S. National Institutes
of Health ($11.2 million since 1972), National Science Foundation, Office
of Naval Research and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
professor wins Nobel Prize in physics (10/07/03)
professor wins Crafoord Prize (9/25/03)