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Raymond V. Damadian, MD

photo of Raymond Damadian

Raymond V. Damadian was born in New York, where, as a young man, he studied the violin at the Juilliard School of Music. Subsequently, he was a Ford Foundation Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from which he graduated in 1956 with a degree in mathematics. He received his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York in 1960.

Dr. Damadian was the first to describe the concept of whole-body NMR scanning, as well as discovering the tissue relaxation differences that made this feasible. In 1969, he first proposed the idea of using nuclear magnetic resonance technology to scan the human body externally for early signs of malignancy. In 1974, he received the first patent in the field of MRI. With the aid of his post-graduate assistants, Doctors Lawrence Minkoff and Michael Goldsmith, Dr. Damadian went on to build Indomitable, the first MR scanner, which was conceived to take advantage of the relaxation differences among the body's tissues. Indomitable produced the first human image, that of Larry Minkoff's chest, on July 3, 1977 and the first scans of patients with cancer in 1978.

In 1978, Dr. Damadian founded FONAR Corporation (which stands for "field focused nuclear magnetic resonance"). FONAR produced the world's first commercial MRI machine in 1980, and now has 15 MRI scanning centers across the United States. In 1985, the FONAR MRI scanner at the UCLA Medical Center became the world's first MRI in which an interventional surgical procedure was performed. That same year FONAR introduced the world's first mobile MRI. In 2007, FONAR's Upright Multi-Positional MRI was recognized as The Invention of the Year by the Intellectual Properties Owners Association Education Foundation. Dr. Damadian also collaborated with Wilson Greatbatch, an early developer of the implantable pacemaker, to develop an MRI-compatible pacemaker.

Dr. Damadian has received a long list of honors. In 1988, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan, which he shared jointly with Dr. Paul Lauterbur, for "their independent contributions in conceiving and developing the application of magnetic resonance technology to medical uses, including whole-body scanning and diagnostic imaging." Less than one year later, Dr. Damadian was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame of the United States Patent Office. His original MRI full-body scanner was given to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1980s and is now on loan and on display at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Ohio.

In 2001, the Lemelson-MIT Prize Program bestowed its $100,000 Lifetime Achievement Award on Dr. Damadian as "the man who invented the MRI scanner." The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia recognized Dr. Damadian's work on MRI with the Bower Award in Business Leadership. He was also named the Knights of Vartan 2003 "Man of the Year." Also in 2003, he was honored with the Innovation Award in Bioscience from The Economist.