Dr. Raymond Damadian

To watch an interview with Dr. Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI Click here.

Cancer has long been one of man’s worst physical enemies. When a person is told he has cancer, he does not take it lightly for he knowns it could eventually cause his death. The race to find a cure for cancer is an ongoing process that has not been completed. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent, and scientists around the world have devoted countless hours searching for a cure. Milestones have been achieved, but still no absolute cure had been discovered. However, thanks to the wisdom and inventiveness of one man, diagnosing cancer has become much easier and more accurate. In the past, often doctors could not diagnose cancer until it was in the final stages and too far advanced to save the life of the person afflicted by it. Sometimes it was actually impossible to pinpoint until after death, during a post mortem on the body. Now, however, thanks to this one man’s invention, diagnosing cancer even in early stages has become much simpler and far more accurate than ever before. This has resulted in saving thousands of lives as the cancer can be detected early, the location and size of the tumor can be exactly known and treated either surgically, with radiation, or medically.


So who is this man who has done so much to contribute to the well being of his fellow men around the world? Who is this person who spent hours, days, months, and thousands of dollars to create the idea of a diagnostic machine that would save thousands of lives?

His name is Dr. Raymond V. Damadian and he is even today a living legend of our times.

Dr. Damadian was born in 1936 in New York, USA. From early years he proved to have much talent, both in studies and in music. He was accepted into the Elite Julliard Music School where he studied violin for 8 years. In 1956 He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a bachelors degree in mathematics and in 1960 earned his M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. As an exceptionally bright young doctor, with an inquisitive mind and a strong Christian faith, Dr. Damadian soon found that tumors and normal tissue can be distinguished in vivo by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Later his research into sodium and potassium in living cells led him to his first experiments with nuclear magnetic resonance which caused him to first propose the possibility of the MR body scanner in 1969. He had discovered that tumors and normal tissue can be distinguished in vivo by NMR because of their differences in relaxation times.

Dr. Damadian
Dr. Raymond Damadian

In 1977 Dr. Damadian performed the first full body scan of a human being to diagnose cancer. He had invented an apparatus and method to scan the human body, a method now well known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

For his work in this field Dr. Damadian was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, an honor which few scientists have achieved. Because of his inventive genius, he has received several prizes: In 2001 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lemelson – MIT Prize Program and was given $100,000 as “the man who invented the MRI scanner.” The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, USA, awarded Dr. Damadian the Bower Award in Business Leadership for his work in the Fonar company which produces and markets the MRI scanners around the world. He was named the knights of Vartan 2003 “Man of the Year.” He received a National Medal of Technology in 1988, which is a very prestigious award, recognizing his achievements in the realm of scientific inventions. In 2007 Dr. Damadian was given the National Inventor of the Year award in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Damadian awarded, inventor of MRI
President Ronald Reagan presents the National Medal of Technology to Damadian, 1988

But great minds do not rest and Dr. Damadian, after initially developing the concept making the MRI scanner possible, went on to work with Wilson Greatback, an early develop an MRI-compatible pacemaker. Still, even this invention was not enough, and in his elder years  Dr. Damadian is still researching, still developing, and still inventing. A more recent and very important achievement of Dr. Damadian’s is an MRI system that can be used in the operating room during actual surgery. This is another great move forward and will help make surgery on delicate areas of the body (such as the brain) far more accurate and safe. For example, when surgery is being done on the brain, once the incision is made and the brain tend to shift, thereby making it difficult for surgeons to find and excise a tumor using the least invasive means. However, thanks to Dr. Damadian’s operating room MR machine, surgeons now have image-guided surgery. This has made many surgeries much more reliable and safe.

Dr. Kalkanis, MD, co-director of the Hemelin Brain Tumor Center and director of neurosurgical oncology at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, US, says, “Being able to take these images as we are removing the tumor allows us to map and navigate and protect tissue that needs to be protected and remove the malignant brain tissue.”

Dr. Madsen, of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, US, says, “The cutting edge of neurosurgery is to identify and remove as much of the undesirable pathologically damaging brain tissue without disturbing the functioning areas of the brain. Through the use of physiological mapping and the MR-OR (Magnetic Resonance Operating Room machine), we are able to achieve this and assure our patients the best possible surgical outcomes.” Thus, Dr. Damadian’s technology has transformed neurosurgeons’ approach to brain surgery.

abbott northwestern building
Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Stil, even at an advanced age, Dr. Damadian continues to amaze the scientific community around the world with his skills, wisdom, investigations, and inventions. For example, with the cooperation of others, Dr. Damadian is now researching possible causes of MS using his upright MRI scanner. He has determined that when an MS patient lies prone, as in the normally used MRI scanner, the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid within the cranial vault and spinal canal does not show significant change. However, in MS patients using the upright MRI scanner which Dr. Damadian developed, the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid is shown to be lessened and almost blocked, thus leading one to believe this may be a significant reason for the MS development. Thus ongoing research in this field may help physicians and scientists discover cures of at least greatly help those afflicted by MS. This is a remarkable thing when one considers that Dr. Damadian is now in his late 70’s!

The modern world owes a debt of thanks to the remarkable Dr. Damadian, who is not only a skilled musician, doctor, scientists and inventor, but also a serious Christian gentleman. Thank you Dr. Dimadian, for your past, recent, and ongoing contributions to the world of science and medicine!

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