Raymond V Damadian

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 07 Aug 2021

Raymond V Damadian (1936-fl.2021) is a pioneer in the field of MRI and inventor of one of the first MRI scanners.

Raymond Vahan Damadian was born on 16 March 1936 in Forest Hills, New York City and was a child prodigy. He studied violin at the Juilliard School of Music for eight years, did his first degree in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in 1956, and was also an accomplished tennis player. He qualified in medicine in 1960 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City 3.

His early research work was on the role of the potassium ion in cells, which he studied with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). In 1971 he wrote an important paper in Science showing that tumor cells detected by NMR would have longer relaxation times. He invented the MRI scanner (1972) and believed its role in detecting cancer would be an important one at a time when he faced much skepticism. In 1978 he founded the FONAR corporation to produce and develop the MRI scanner (FONAR: field focusing nuclear magnetic resonance) 1,2.

In 2003 Damadian was not co-awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology, which went to Peter Mansfield and Paul Lauterbur for their role in developing MRI. This decision by the Nobel Committee caused much controversy at the time and is still debated today 1.

In 1988 he shared the USA National Medal for Technology with Paul Lauterbur for their development of MRI 1.

Damadian is remembered for his major contribution to the development of MRI and the controversial decision of the Nobel Committee to not award him a share of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

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