Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Obit: Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur


Paul C. Lauterbur, 77, Dies; Won Nobel Prize for M.R.I.
Published: March 28, 2007

Paul C. Lauterbur, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2003 for developing magnetic resonance imaging into a way to look inside living organisms, died yesterday at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 77.


In his initial experiments, Dr. Lauterbur produced simple pictures that could differentiate tubes of ordinary water from those containing water made of deuterium atoms, a heavier version of hydrogen.

He also took an N.M.R. picture of a clam. “Which looked pretty much like a clam,” said David Hanson, a colleague at Stony Brook. “Some people thought it was sort of wacky.”

The pictures were blurry and not particularly impressive.

When Dr. Lauterbur submitted his findings to the journal Nature, it rejected the article.

But he persisted, Dr. Hanson said. “Paul had the vision and the understanding that these were just proof-of-principle experiments,” he said, “and they were blazing a trail, and once you got the trail started, it would turn into a superhighway.”

Dr. Lauterbur appealed to the editors and submitted a revised manuscript. It was accepted and published in 1973.

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