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ACS To Designate Development Of MRI In SBU Chemistry Building As National Historic Landmark

Originally Posted: March 10, 2011

Stony Brook - Millions of lives are saved every year thanks to MRI, the medical imaging technology developed by Paul Lauterbur that permits early detection and treatment of severe conditions such as stroke, Multiple sclerosis and cancer.

The ability to perform non-invasive imaging of the interior of living organisms using nuclear magnetic resonance is one of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century. The instrument on which Professor Lauterbur performed this critical experiment was a Varian A-60 NMR spectrometer capable of detecting protons at 60 MHz. That very same instrument is in a permanent display in the lobby of the Graduate Chemistry building at Stony Brook University.

"Paul Lauterbur's invention of MRI has transformed diagnostic medicine by providing a tool for the non-invasive, in vivo examination of soft tissues such as the heart, brain and muscles and for the early detection of cancer and other diseases," said ACS President Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D. "It was the genius of Paul Lauterbur to realize that nuclear magnetic resonance signals could generate multidimensional images."

"Paul Lauterbur's path-breaking work on magnetic resonance imaging has always been a source of pride for Stony Brook University," said Dr. John H. Marburger III, Vice President for Research, Stony Brook University. "Now the American Chemical Society's declaration of this work as a National Historic Chemical Landmark raises the visibility of this achievement in a broader community. Most people know that MRI is a powerful medical diagnostic tool, but few stop to think how it came into existence. The Landmark designation gives us an opportunity to tell the story of chemistry in action, and encourages us to tell it in new ways to wider audiences. We are proud to be the birthplace of this remarkable technology and are grateful to ACS for granting it Landmark status."

The American Chemical Society commemorates via historic landmark designation the first construction of an image by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance by Prof. Paul Lauterbur 30 years ago in the Stony Brook University Department of Chemistry. This work led to the awarding of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine to Professor Lauterbur. The celebration will take place on Friday, March 11 at 1 p.m. in the Chemistry building lobby. A 3 p.m. symposium led by Charles B. Wang will be held in the Center Theatre.

In attendance will be:

Nancy B. Jackson, President, American Chemical Society; John H. Marburger III, Vice President for Research, Stony Brook University; Joan Dawson, Associate Professor Emerita, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Eriks Kupce, Sr. Scientific Advisor, Agilent Technologies, United Kingdom; Benjamin Hsiao - Chair, Department of Chemistry, Stony Brook University; Daniel Raleigh, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Stony Brook University.

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