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J Urol. 2007 Sep;178(3 Pt 1):783-5. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

Raymond V. Damadian, M.D.: magnetic resonance imaging and the controversy of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

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State University of New York Downstate Medical School, Brooklyn, New York 11203, USA.



On October 6, 2003 the Nobel Committee announced that Paul C. Lauterbur, PhD and Sir Peter Mansfield, PhD were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the development of magnetic resonance imaging. Dr. Raymond Damadian was excluded and a controversy ensued.


Unbiased secondary sources were examined and revealed the chronology of magnetic resonance imaging development. An examination of the patents and publications of Doctor Damadian was included in this documentation.


In 1969 Doctor Damadian proposed the concept of a magnetic resonance scanner to the Human Research Council of New York City. His publication in the journal Science in 1971 also established his priority. He applied for a patent for his scanning method in 1972 and it was granted in 1974. Doctor Damadian published the first magnetic resonance imaging study of a human body in 1977. Doctor Lauterbur produced the first image of a live subject, a clam, and published the results in Nature in March 1973. He neglected to mention Damadian's work but he did include references which cited Damadian. This would start a controversy that continues to the present day.


The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine can be awarded to a maximum of 3 scientists for any single discovery but in this instance was only given to 2. Excluding Doctor Damadian seems to be a serious and purposeful omission. The deliberations of the Nobel Committee remain closed for 50 years and only after this time passes will the world know what contributed to the decision to exclude Damadian.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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