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Paul Lauterbur
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    (May 6, 1929-March 27, 2007)
    Born in SIdney, Ohio
    Professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook (1963-85) and the University of Illinois at Urbana (1985-2007)
    Pioneer in developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    With fellow MRI pioneer Paul Mansfield, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2003)
    He had to conduct his initial MRI research at night, after the necessary equipment had been used in higher priority experiments.
    One of his first MRI images was of a clam, which, a colleague noted, ‘looked pretty much like a clam.’
    His first paper reporting MRI results was rejected by the journal ‘Nature,’ which complained that his photos were too fuzzy (1971).
    His proposed name for MRI, ‘zeugmatopography’ (from ‘zeugma,’ the Greek word for ‘yoke,’ since the technique linked chemical and spatial information together), never caught on.
    He first scribbled the idea for MRI on a napkin between bites of hamburger while eating at a Bob’s Big Boy.
    He realized early on that MRI could be used for non-invasive medical imaging.
    He lost a potential fortune in royalties when SUNY decided not to apply for a patent on MRI, deciding there would ‘t be enough interest to cover the costs of the patent process.
    He observed, ‘You could write the history of science in the last 50 years in terms of papers rejected by ‘Science’ or ‘Nature.’’

Credit: C. Fishel

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