Paul Lauterbur, 'Father Of The MRI,' Receives Posthumous Engineering Award

Sep 5, 2018

Chemist, Nobel Prize winner and "Father of the MRI," Dr. Paul Lauterbur
Credit Courtesy of the Nobel Prize

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has honored the Stony Brook scientist whose work led to the development of the MRI, declaring his work a “historical milestone.”

A plaque honoring the late Paul Lauterbur will be on display at the Stony Brook Medical Research and Translation building.

According to his daughter Elise, Lauterbur had his eureka moment while chewing on a hamburger at a Pittsburgh Big Boy restaurant. 

“He ran across the street to get a notebook, and he wrote all of his ideas down in a notebook and at that point he actually know it could become something big. So he had a friend and collaborator sign it to prove the day and location of this hamburger joint.”

Elise was not surprised the realization that he could see inside a living being came to her father while biting into a burger, because he spent all day thinking about science. Stony Brook President Samuel Stanley called it one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.

“When we can see something and visualize something, that enables discovery and that pushes frontiers forward. So what Paul Lauterbur did with MRI was really allow us to see the human body, and see inside the human body in ways that we couldn’t before.”

Lauterbur recieved the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003 for his work.