THIS YEAR’S NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE.
THIS IS THE GREAT VOYAGE OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY THAT GAVE
THE WORLD THE MRI. IT WILL BE IGNORED ON THE SHAMEFUL NIGHT
OF DECEMBER 10TH.
THE NOBEL PRIZE WILL MAKE ITSELF IRRELEVANT TO THE TRUE HISTORY
OF THE MRI. IT WILL ALSO LOSE ITS CREDIBILITY AS AN AWARD
FOR SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT.
This Wednesday evening, the Nobel Prize for Medicine will
be awarded for the MRI.
The prize pretends to honor “discoveries concerning
the development of magnetic resonance imaging.” Yet
the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine decided to
exclude from recognition the foundational scientific history
in magnetic resonance imaging you see before you – scientific
history that has been before the Committee during the many
years Dr. Raymond Damadian has been nominated for the prize
for the MRI.
They have chosen, instead, to award the prize to two men
who contributed nothing more than improved ways to image the
MR signals from cancer tissue and healthy tissue that Raymond
Damadian discovered – the signals that continue to drive
every MRI in the world. To put MRI technology briefly: no
signal, no image.
The authoritative medical textbook MRI from Picture to Proton
(Cambridge University Press, UK, 2003) describes the landmark
importance of Damadian’s discovery in this way:
“The initial concept for the medical application of
NMR, as it [MRI] was then called, originated with the discovery
by Raymond Damadian in 1971 that certain mouse tumours displayed
elevated relaxation times compared with normal tissues in
vitro. This exciting discovery opened the door for a complete
new way of imaging the human body where the potential contrast
between tissues and disease was many times greater than that
offered by X-ray technology and ultrasound.”
While the inventions of the two men being honored do have
some place in the history of the MRI, they were essentially
replaced in 1980 by a technique called spin warp. Meanwhile,
the signals discovered by Dr. Damadian continue to help save
thousands of lives around the world every day.
When it comes to the two winners – one an NMR chemist
and the other one an NMR physicist – we can ask the
same question that the textbook asks: “So what were
NMR researchers doing between the forties and the seventies
– that’s a long time in cultural and scientific
terms. The answer: they were doing chemistry, including Lauterbur,
a professor of chemistry at the same institution as Damadian.
NMR developed into a laboratory spectroscopic technique capable
of examining the molecular structure of compounds, until Damadian’s
ground-breaking discovery in 1971.”
A PRIZE SHOULD RECOGNIZE SCIENTIFIC HISTORY. NOT ATTEMPT
TO REWRITE IT.
A prize in science, or any other field, exists for only one
credible reason: to recognize the history of achievement.
It must never attempt to rewrite it. The very effort demonstrates
contempt for the truth of science.
Yet that is what the Nobel Committee for Physiology and Medicine
has attempted to do.
They will fail, regardless of whether or not the Committee
or the Assembly makes a last-minute emendation. They will
fail because the truth is not so malleable as they would like
and Dr. Damadian’s achievements are far too significant
for any credible historian to overlook.
THE DAMAGE TO THE PRIZE WILL BE LASTING
If the trustees into whose hands the prize has fallen can
maneuver their way around the undeniable evidence of scientific
achievement you see here, how can their selections in years
to come be regarded with anything but skepticism?
The people responsible have no one to blame but themselves.
Yet the present situation makes us and all people who had
hoped for better inexpressibly sad.
OVER 500 MILLION MRI SCANS AND COUNTING
Since Dr. Damadian’s “exciting discovery opened
the door for a complete new way of imaging the human body,”
along with his persistence in building the first MRI in the
face of nearly universal skepticism – called at the
time such idiotic things as “visionary nonsense”
– and his achievement of the first scan of the human
body, over 500 million MRI scans have been performed around
Thanks to his discovery and will, the MRI has spared millions
of patients untold agony and saved millions of lives. Is he
not one of the greatest living benefactors of humanity? Imagine
the characters who decided such a person could be bypassed
ALFRED NOBEL WOULD NOT QUALIFY FOR HIS OWN AWARD
The decision-making process in Stockholm has become so wrongheaded
as to exclude – as a matter of spoken policy and almost
without exception – inventors who hold patents in favor
of academic researchers. They feel the inventors will make
money, but the academic researchers need it. Sorry, we didn’t
think the Nobel Prize is about money. We thought it is about
the unprejudiced recognition of scientific achievement. So
egregiously flawed is this policy that Alfred Nobel himself,
who held 355 patents, would not qualify for his own prize!
TO THOSE WHO HAVE RAISED THEIR VOICES
We would like to dedicate this final effort to right the
shameful wrong that has been done to Raymond Damadian to all
those people of good conscience who have raised their voices
in protest. It is your unswerving ethical sense that allows
people who are wronged to hope that they may yet find justice
in the unbiased court of public opinion.
WE HAVE DONE ALL WE CAN
We have now done all we can to right the shameful wrong that
has been done to Raymond Damadian, M. D. The rest resides
in Stockholm. As the Nobel trustees know, three winners can
still be named for the prize in medicine. Yet, at this late
date, what hope is there that a sufficient number of them
can find within themselves the ethics to step forward?
We find it more logical to be consoled by certain verities
– among them that, regardless of any prize, the MRI
will continue to bestow its many benefactions on humanity,
and the medical doctor who has been considered its inventor
for over 30 years will continue to be regarded as such. He
will also no doubt continue to be what he is so irrepressibly:
the most innovative mind in MRI – from the day he first
conceived the possibility of such a machine to today and on
This visionary man has recently invented the first Stand-Up
MRI, which spinal surgeons are finding invaluable for more
accurate assessment of problems and the treatment of them.
He is also perfecting the MRI Operating Room, so that surgeons
can view a live image of their progress.
We are also proud to say that he is the great and good man
we know as our friend – our terribly wronged but courageous
TWO POSITIVE NOTES FROM SWEDEN
While the Nobel seems hopelessly bent on celebrating the
disgrace of its prize, The Swedish Inventors Academy has written
to Dr. Damadian to say, “Your views on the criteria
used by the Nobel Committee in their work with the nomination
of prize winners is now well known here. The Swedish Inventors
Academy shares your opinion that inventors have been treated
unjustly in the past and not in accordance with Mr. Nobel’s
will. They have justified this by the argument that a good
invention will enrich the inventor and he will therefore not
be in need of a prize. Consequently, rich scientists should
not be entitled to a prize either [which would exclude Lauterbur
from the prize]…. Yours Sincerely, Magnus Lindmark,
Chairman, The Swedish Inventors Academy.”
A leading member of the IDE’ Forum has informed Dr.
Damadian that he plans to fly to New York on December 10th
to present Dr. Damadian in person with their highest honor.
The citation reads: “Let it be known that Dr. Raymond
Damadian, USA, is awarded IDE’ FORUM SWEDEN gold medal
within the fields of physics and technology 2003.” Bless
their vision and ethics.
CAPTIONS FOR PHOTOS AROUND THE MARGIN
Here is the great voyage of scientific discovery to which
we truly owe the MRI. As the result of early detection of
cancer and other serious diseases, along with more exact monitoring
of the effectiveness of treatment, the MRI confers countless
thousands of medical benefits on humanity every day –
in lives healed and saved worldwide.
Enjoy what follows. It all happened in America – in
fact, most of it in New York.
Dr. Damadian with Dr. Freeman Cope. Cope first introduced
Damadian to the workings of the NMR machine in 1969 while
they were performing spectroscopy experiments on potassium-rich
bacteria at NMR Specialties in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Damadian at the NMR in his Brooklyn laboratory, measuring
the signals from human tissues that led him to the “exciting
discovery [that] opened the door for a complete new way of
imaging the human body…”1
Original data from Dr. Damadian’s notebook on which
he based his landmark paper in the journal Science (March
1971). In his paper, titled “Tumor Detection by Nuclear
Magnetic Resonance,” he reported the discovery of the
tissue cancer-tissue signal and the difference in signals
from healthy tissue (T1 and T2) that made the MRI a goal worth
Although Dr. Damadian had never built a magnet before, he
set about to build a 5,000-gauss superconducting magnet –
at that time the ninth-largest in the world. He sought and
received a computer program from Brookhaven National Laboratories
to enable him to calculate the magnetic field of the magnet
he was designing. Dr. Damadian’s design called for the
construction of three huge doughnut-shaped metal rings nested
within one another. The smallest doughnut, made of polished
stainless steel, contained the wire hoops comprising the magnet
and the liquid helium. To reduce heat conduction, the magnet
was prevented from touching its container with special supports
made of material that was a poor conductor of heat.
It was up to Michael Goldsmith, Ph. D. (who was Dr. Damadian’s
postdoctoral research fellow and former graduate student),
with the help of other graduate students of Dr. Damadian,
to wind the wire for the two magnet hoops. Niobium-titanium
wire obtained at the “miraculous” price of ten
cents on the dollar from Westinghouse Corporation was tightly
and precisely wound off a wooden spool into two 53-inch-diameter
hoops, each containing 30 miles of wire, an almost trance-producing
process that went on for weeks at six days a week, 16 hours
The second doughnut, to be filled with liquid nitrogen to
help cool the helium, was made of aluminum wrapped with 85
layers of super-insulating aluminized Mylar to bounce off
unwanted heat radiation.
The third and largest doughnut, a half-inch-thick aluminum
can visible in the finished machine on the next page, contained
the other two doughnuts surrounded by a 10 exp-9 TORR vacuum.
Though surrounded by liquid nitrogen and encased n a vacuum
atmosphere, the liquid helium for the magnet had to be replenished
daily To store liquid helium, Dr. Damadian and Larry Minkoff
had to build a reservoir tank to sit astride the huge magnet.
Unfortunately, it leaded intolerably and it took weeks of
valuable time to find and fix the microscopic leaks in the
Drs. Damadian, Minkoff and Goldsmith and the completed Indomitable.
Although it was built to operate at 5,000 gauss, some of the
wire in the magnet had to be bypassed through a special access
sleeve designed by Dr. Goldsmith. Along with the bypassed
wire went the field strength. The team would have to try producing
a human image at only 500 gauss.
To go from an NMR machine which analyzed test-but-size samples
of single compounds, in pure solutions to electronically mapping
the inside of the human body was, as Dr. Damadian described
it, “like going from a paper glider that you tossed
across the classroom to a 747.” The above machine, an
example of one such NMR spectrometer, was smaller and less
sophisticated than the machine used at NMR Specialties. It
was ordered by Dr. Damadian in 1971 to perform ongoing tissue
biopsy studies at Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center
after his discovery of the cancer scanning signal at NMR Specialties
in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.
The first attempt for a human scan was with Dr. Damadian
sitting in Indomitable, the world’s first MR scanner
that he and his colleagues built. A blood-pressure guage was
affixed to his right arm, an EKG was wired to his chest, and
oxygen was kept handy The cardiologist (standing at left in
a photo) was there in case the magnetic field produced any
strange cardiac effect on Dr. Damadian. No signal was received
from the scanner. The team decided that Dr. Damadian was oversized
for the cardboard vest housing the antenna and that he must
have detuned it. A thinner “guinea pig” was needed.
The “perfect-sized” Larry Minkoff finally agreed
to be scanned.
The data from Michael Goldsmith’s notebook where he
and Dr. Damadian recorded the oscilloscope measurements of
signals received form Larry Minkoff’s chest on the night
of the first human MR scan. Each of the 106 numeric values
was given a corresponding color which, when sketched with
colored pencils on a sheet of graph paper, indicated a rough,
but otherwise accurate representation of Minkoff’s chest
– the body wall, the right and left lungs, the heart
(the right atrium and one of its ventricles), and the descending
Dr. Damadian’s jubilant hand-written notation, “Fantastic
Success!” marked the historic accomplishment in his
The data was fed into a computer and interpolated to produce
the finished image.
Dr. Damadian in the early days of Fonar Corporation conducting
MRI experiments during the development of the medical industry’s
first commercial scanner, Fonar’s QED 80.
An early Fonar scanner (1982).
MR imaging, fast becoming the cornerstone of modern radiology,
shows detail never shown before by diagnostic imaging.
Dr. Raymond V. Damadian, inventor of MR scanning, with the
history-making prototype named Indomitable, used to make the
first MR image of a human on July 3, 1977. The machine is
now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution’s
Hall of Medical Sciences (Now on loan to The National Inventors
Hall of Fame).
In 1989, Dr. Damadian was inducted into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander
Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford.
The Lincoln-Edison Medal award to those inducted into the
Hall, acknowledges the importance of the U. S. Patent System
with a quotation by Abraham Lincoln: “The Patent System
added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”
Dr. Raymond Damadian with his wife, Donna, at the 1989 Presidential
Inaugural Ball. Dr. Damadian credits much of his achievement
in inventing MR scanning to the gentle and quite strength
of Donna, who kept the home fires burning during Dr. Damadian’s
long, often discouraging struggle to see his dream machine
CAPTIONS FOR MAIN PHOTOS
President Reagan presenting Dr. Raymond Damadian with The
National Medal of Technology on July 15, 1988 (jointly with
Lauterbur) “For their independent contributions in conceiving
and developing the application of magnetic resonance technology
to medical uses including whole-body scanning and diagnostic
President Reagan Dr. William Graham, Science Advisor to the
President Dr. Raymond Damadian
The National Medal of Technology, as presented to Raymond
Dr. Raymond Damadian at his induction into the National Inventors
hall of Fame (Established by the U. S. Patent Office), February
12, 1989, for the invention of magnetic resonance scanning
EXCERPT FROM LETTER BY PRESIDENT BUSH: HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
Congratulatory letter from President Bush: “And so
I join you in saluting the memory of three great inventors
being honored tonight: Westinghouse, Deere, and Langmuir.
You are fortunate, I understand, to have a fourth great inventor
with you: Dr. Raymond Damadian, whose medical inventions are
saving lives around the world. In my association with the
wonderful Invent America! Program, I have seen Dr. Damadian
at work, captivating young imaginations with the fires of
his own. I would not be surprised to see him joined in The
Hall of Fame by some of those promising young minds. All it
takes is imagination and encouragement, and he is an ideal
source of both. He is living, reassuring proof that the spirit
of invention continues to thrive in our great Nation. Barbara
and I join the American people in congratulating Dr. Damadian
and in sending our best wishes to all of you.” George
Timeline of MRI
Damadian conceives of and proposes a whole-body MR scanner
for the first time ever. “I will make every effort myself
and through collaborators to establish that all tumors can
be recognized by their potassium relaxation times or water-proton
spectra and proceed with the development of instrumentation
and probes that can be used to scan the human body externally
for early signs of malignancy. Detection of internal tumors
during the early stages of their genesis should bring us very
close to the total eradication of this disease.” Health
Research Council of The City of New York, grant application,
September 17, 1969
Key Discovery Makes the MRI Possible
Damadian identifies the T1 and T2 signal differences (that
is, the signal strength differences) between cancer tissue
and normal tissue
First paper published
Damadian publishes his first paper about his findings in
the journal Science (March 19).
Scanning Method Proposed
Damadian outlines his voxel-by-voxel scanning method, recorded
in his 1972 patent. “Already Dr. Damadian is planning
to build a much larger nuclear magnetic resonance device,
one that will be big enough to hold a human being. That machine,
Dr. Damadian believes, will prove that nuclear magnetic resonance
(NMR) is the tool that doctors have been looking for in their
quest for a method of detecting cancer early when treatment
is most effective. ‘The proposed NMR device for detecting
cancer in humans would not have to be highly elaborate,’
Dr. Damadian says. ‘It would consist of a large coil
to emit radio waves and a movable magnet to create the magnetic
field required. The coil would be wrapped around the patient’s
chest, while the magnet passed back and forth across the body.
A detector would pick up NMR emissions for analysis.”
The Downstate Reporter, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1971
Gradient Method Proposed
Lauterbur’s notebook proposal of the gradient methods
of Gabillard, Purcell & Carr
to scan 1 dimension, as Gabillard did.
It’s incomplete; 3 dimensions are needed.
First Patent Filed
Damadian files a patent for his 3-dimensional voxel-by-voxel
scan method (patent issued in 1974)
2D Scan (image) Achieved
Lauterbur submits a 2-dimension MR scan (image) method with
scan of 1mm tubes for publication.
2nd Paper Published
Lauterbur’s paper (2D image) published in Nature (March
3D Scan Method Proposed
Garroway, Grannell & Mansfield publish a 3-dimensional
Phase Coding Introduced
Kumar, Welti & Ernst introduce phase coding scan method.
First Human Scan Achieved
Damadian and two of his coworkers, Minkoff and Goldsmith,
achieve the first scan (image) of the human body, using Damadian’s
voxel method. It is a cross-section of Minkoff’s chest,
completed 4:45 AM, July 3, 1977.
Phase Coding Applied
Aberdeen group of Hutchison, Edelstein and Mallard achieves
successful spin-warp technique in use throughout the world
today to make MRI images.
First Commercial MRI
Damadian – and the company he forms for the practical
application of MRI technology to medicine – introduces
the first commercial MRI scanner, utilizing his patented voxel
High Court on U. S. Patents and the U. S. Supreme Court enforce
Damadian’s patent, finding “insubstantial differences”
between the way modern MRI’s output signals and his
patented use of the signals to detect cancer.
Paid for by The Friends of Raymond Damadian. Contact DanielCulver@aol.com
or call him at 631-694-2929.
All facts are public knowledge. Documentation for all claims
may be found at www.fonar.com
(ITEMS NOT IN FINAL ADVERTISEMENT DUE TO SPACE REQUIREMENTS)
EXCERPTS FROM DR. DAMADIAN’S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH, NATIONAL
INVENTORS HALL OF FAME
The invention began 18 years ago when, from my basic scientific
research in biophysics and biochemistry, it occurred to me
it might be possible to obtain a radio signal from cancer
tissue that would allow us to build a scanner that could use
these signals to hunt down cancer in the human body.
I was then able to perform the fist experiments in 1970
to test this…. To my great delight, the radio signals
from the cancers were dramatically different from normal.
Then came the construction of the human magnet, the first
scanner and all of the persuading, indeed pleading, with officials
and funding sources that it could really work…. One
chemist, knowing that laboratory NMR analyzers always spun
the sample, asked at a conference, “Now Dr. Damadian,
how fast do you propose to spin the patient?” …
Well, we had to build the scanner now… At 4:45 a. m.,
the morning of July 3, 1977, after a year and a half of building
Indomitable, as we called the first scanner, we performed
the first scan of a live human being on Larry Minkoff’s
chest… I thank the National Hall of Fame so much for
giving me this great honor in vivo and, even more miraculously,
when I’m still young enough and my family complete enough
to appreciate it…. I thank the people of America because
this invention is wholly American…. So, as Charles Dickens
put it, “God bless you all, every one.”
DESCRIPTION OF DR. DAMADIAN, NATIONAL INVENTORS HALL OF FAME
Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue
Raymond V. Damadian, born on Marc 16, 1936, in Forest Hills,
New York, is the inventor of the magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) machine which is in use in medical institutions around
the world. MRI produces images of the body that are far more
detailed than x-rays which it obtains from the human body
through the use of static and dynamic magnetic fields.
Dr. Damadian also invented the first Open MRI and the first