MRI pioneer, Carr dies at 83

April 14, 2008 11:14:37 AM PDT
Physicist Hermann Yaggi Carr, a pioneer in early development of MRI body-scanning technology and longtime Rutgers University professor, died Wednesday while working at his home in Bridgewater, apparently of heart disease. He was 83. Carr received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, from 1948 through 1953, from Harvard University, where he wrote a thesis on techniques in nuclear magnetic resonance that was later published. His early research included what is believed to be the first example of magnetic resonance imaging, according to Rutgers.

However, Carr and another scientist both were overlooked when the Nobel Prize committee in 2003 awarded the prize in medicine for discoveries that led to magnetic resonance imaging - to American Paul C. Lauterbur and Briton Sir Peter Mansfield for work they did independently in the 1970s.

MRI technology uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to create highly detailed, 3-D computerized images of body organs and tissues - even activity within the brain - making it an indispensable part of modern medicine, particularly diagnosis.

Born in Alliance, Ohio, Carr came to Rutgers as an assistant professor in 1952. There, he taught and continued research that laid the groundwork for today's MRI technology. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship under which he worked in a cooperative research program with Oxford and other universities.

In 1971, Carr and colleague Richard Weidner co-authored a well-known introductory physics textbook, entitled "Physics From The Ground Up."

Carr retired from Rutgers in 1987. An anonymous donor established two scholarships for Rutgers physics majors in his name, given annually starting in 2001.

Carr remained active in the area of MRI studies until his death. He was to have given the leadoff talk at a major international meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine next month.

Carr's wife, Hilda Hagen Carr, died in 1986. He is survived by a daughter, son, sister and three grandchildren.

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