Astounding achievements are nothing new to Raymond Vahan Damadian. As a teen, he competed against 100,000 other applicants to win a coveted Ford Foundation Scholarship, which he used to earn a degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1956. A medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine followed in 1960.
But even bigger things would come from Damadian. In 1969, after researching sodium and potassium in living cells, he proposed the first magnetic resonance body scanner. Magnetic resonance had been used to study chemicals, but Damadian thought that it could be used to distinguish tumors from normal body tissue and doggedly pursued his research.
Several years later, he built “Indomitable,’’ the first MR scanner. In 1978, the machine produced the first scans of cancer patients.
Damadian, who taught at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, founded FONAR Corporation, which produced the world’s first commercial MRI machine in 1980.
Known as the “inventor of the MRI’’ in scientific circles, Damadian has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Indomitable, his original MRI, was given to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
By Robert Warren
Profile photo courtesy of the Franklin Institute