Tuesday, October 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Two share Nobel for developing MRI
Work began in 1971, says winner

Stockholm, October 6
Two scientists who developed a way to see inside the body in a way that limits pain and gives more information ahead of surgery won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has said today.

“Paul Lauterbur, 74, of the United States, and Peter Mansfield, who will turn 70 this week, of Britain won the prize for their discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),” the university hospital said.

“They have made seminal discoveries concerning the use of magnetic resonance... which represents a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research,” the institute’s Nobel Assembly said in its citation for the prize, worth 10 million crowns ($ 1.3 million).

Lauterbur’s and Mansfield’s discoveries led to the development of the modern MRI, a method yielding three-dimensional images of organs inside the human body. The MRI has helped replace invasive examinations and reduced risk and discomfort for millions of persons going through medical tests ahead of surgery.

“The technique is especially valuable for detailed imaging of the brain and the spinal cord,” the assembly said. “MRI examinations are very important in diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of cancer.”

Reports from Chicago say the breakthrough idea that led to what the world knows as magnetic resonance imaging occurred to Paul Lauterbur a quarter century ago and took control of his life.

“It was basically an idea, but once one has an idea, the many possibilities become apparent, and so, it seized hold of me for about a quarter of a century,” Lauterbur, 74, said today shortly after learning he would share the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine with British scientist Sir Peter Mansfield. Reached at his home in Urbana, in central Illinois, the University of Illinois professor said, “Everything they say about this sort of interference in your life is true, but it’s wonderful.”

The university had mentioned Lauterbur over the years as a likely Nobel candidate, but he said he was surprised. “One can hear speculation over the years, but the actual event is always a surprise.” Lauterbur is a professor and director of the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign.

Lauterbur said his work on magnetic resonance imaging started in 1971, and before that he was working on similar applications for chemistry. “That prepared the groundwork for what is known today as MRI.”

In Nottingham, Sir Peter Mansfield thought it was a joke when his wife told him the news today. “I didn’t expect anything like this at all. If someone just told you had won the Nobel Prize, I think the reaction of 90 per cent of the population would be ‘yeah, go on, pull the other one,” Sir Peter Mansfield of Nottingham University said.

Mansfield’s wife told him the news after receiving a call from his secretary. When he received a second call from the Nobel Committee in Sweden, he realised it was true. — Reuters


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