Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Born on this Day Magnets and Medicine
09 October 2013

Magnets and Medicine

Both in illness and in health, the most interesting things usually happen well underneath the skin. Effectively diagnosing disease used to involve invasive surgery to ‘see’ inside the body. Luckily for everyone alive today, a few decades ago physicists exploring the power of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) discovered that they could ‘image’ biological tissue in surprisingly high resolution. In 1977, Sir Peter Mansfield – born on this day – used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualise the tissue and bone inside his little finger. Many scientists subsequently got to work on developing MRI for use in the clinic. And today most hospitals boast a full body scanner, which has helped doctors diagnose disease without invasive techniques. Mansfield received a joint Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003 and the National Portrait Gallery has recently commemorated him with this portrait.

Written by Emma Bornebroek

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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