Paul Christian Lauterbur
(May 6, 1929—March 27, 2007)
(Photo credit: © The Nobel Foundation)
By developing the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to
create images of organs, joints and other tissues in the human
body, Paul Lauterbur established magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
as an important tool in modern medicine.
Born in Sidney Ohio, he earned his B.A. in chemistry from the
Case Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University
of Pittsburgh. Early in his career, Lauterbur pursued the use of
NMR machines to study the structure of chemical compounds while
working for the Army Chemical Center Medical Laboratories.
Applying a magnetic field, he was able to determine spatial
patterns within chemical compounds. Lauterbur furthered his
research on NMR spectroscopy at the State University of New York
at Stony Brook, refining methods for analyzing structures. By
determining NMR technology could be used to create images of
structures within the body, he created a uniform magnetic field
to provide resolute signals. MRI provides detailed images of
internal organs, making it a valuable tool for spotting
cancerous tumors, internal injuries and defects in tissue.
While at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Lauterbur continues his work pursuing new applications for
bioengineering. Recipient of many honors, he was awarded the
2003 Nobel Prize.
Leroy E. Hood
John Joseph Lynott