February 16 ~  Established With Difficulty MRI

"The very greatest things--great thoughts, discoveries, inventions-- have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty." ~ Samuel Smiles

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A man of great thoughts, born in Forest Hills, New York, Raymond V. Damadian (1936-) helped invent the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, one of the greatest breakthroughs in medical diagnostics. The non-invasive MRI creates high-quality images of the inside of the human body, more detailed than X-ray or CAT scanners.

As a child, the compassionate Damadian was influenced by watching his grandmother suffer the pain of cancer. He studied the violin for over eight years and majored in mathematics before becoming a doctor in 1960.

"The one thing I found appealing about medicine was that it didn't seal your options," he explained.

Using advanced principles of physics and computing, the MRI produced images with magnetism and radio waves. "What I learned in the process of developing the MR scanner was that criticism is an integral part of the process and always has been," observed Damadian. "The bolder the initiative, the harsher the criticism."

With a scanner he named "Indomitable," Dr. Damadian made the first scan of the human body in 1977. The next year, he formed FONAR Corporation (from "Field fOcused Nuclear mAgnetic Resonance") to produce the first commercial scanner in 1980. Damadian's discovery has saved the lives of millions of people through early detection of cancer and other illnesses.

"Innovation is the thrill of discovery," Damadian said. "Ideas come from this thrill."

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