Two developers of magnetic resonance imaging have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm announced today.
Paul Lauterbur, a professor of chemistry, biophysics and computational biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Peter Mansfield, a researcher in Nottingham, England, are the two recipients of the award.
"Lauterbur discovered the possibility to create a two-dimensional picture by introducing gradients in the magnetic field," the Nobel Foundation says in a release. "By analysis of the characteristics of the emitted radio waves, he could determine their origin. This made it possible to build up two-dimensional pictures of structures that could not be visualized with other methods."
Mansfield "further developed the utilization of gradients in the magnetic field," the announcement reads. "He showed how the signals could be mathematically analyzed, which made it possible to develop a useful imaging technique. Mansfield also showed how extremely fast imaging could be achievable."
MRIs first became available in the early 1980s, and by 2002 there were about 22,000 MRIs in use worldwide, the foundation reports.