MRI pioneer Richard Ernst dies

Swiss scientist Richard Ernst, PhD, died on June 4 at the age of 87, according to a report posted June 8 on swissinfo.ch (SWI). He conducted pioneering work that led to the development of MRI.

Ernst was born in 1933 and earned his doctorate in physical chemistry at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich. He spent his career there, after a period at Varian Associates during which he developed nuclear medicine spectroscopy technology, which in turn contributed to the development of medical MRI. In 1991 he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his MRI research.

The question of who is most responsible for developing MRI technology has been somewhat controversial. Dr. Raymond Damadian is credited for performing the first MRI scan on a human subject in 1977, but he was not included in the 2003 Nobel Prize, which was bestowed on Paul Lauterbur, PhD, and Sir Peter Mansfield, PhD -- both of whom are also credited with developing the modality.

Ernst leaves behind his wife, Magdalena, and three children, the SWI reported.

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