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Illinois professor wins Nobel Prize

CHAMPAIGN, 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 org
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
6-Oct-2003


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