University of Pittsburgh
March 26, 2007

Nobel Laureate and Pitt Alumnus Paul C. Lauterbur Dies at 77

Codeveloper of MRI technology earned doctorate of chemistry degree at Pitt in 1962
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PPITTSBURGH-University of Pittsburgh alumnus Paul C. Lauterbur, who shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his part in developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), died today. He was 77.

"Along with the entire University community, I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Lauterbur," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg.

"Dr. Lauterbur was not only a distinguished Nobel Laureate but a valued alumnus and friend to Pitt. His pioneering work in magnetic resonance imaging was a gift to the world and has led to its development as one of the most important diagnostic medical tools of our time. Our thoughts are with his family at this time of loss. We extend our condolences to them and hope that they will take comfort in the knowledge he has left this world a better place."

Most recently a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lauterbur earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at Pitt in 1962. Pitt's chemistry department, in the School of Arts and Sciences, named Lauterbur among the inaugural group of distinguished alumni in 2000 at the department's 125th anniversary celebration.

Lauterbur won the Nobel Prize with Sir Peter Mansfield of the University of Nottingham in England for research that led to the development of MRI, which uses a magnet to generate images of the inside of an object. MRI is largely used in medicine and lauded for its ability to generate clear pictures of soft-tissue organs such as the brain without surgery or radiation.

Lauterbur delivered the keynote speech at Pitt's 2004 commencement ceremony where Chancellor Nordenberg conferred upon him the Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

In his commencement address, Lauterbur explained how his initial ideas of finding a noninvasive method for observing people's internal organs occurred to him at a New Kensington diner. In his speech, Lauterbur added that techniques he learned in a graduate course at Pitt convinced him that the idea was possible.

For a full text of Lauterbur's 2004 commencement address at Pitt, visit the Pitt Chronicle Web site at