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Dr. James Hutchinson, Full Body MRI Inventor, Dies at Age 77

Inventor of the full-body MRI, James Hutchinson, PhD, passed away at age 77 on September 14, 2018 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Dr. Hutchinson created spin-warp imaging, a patent that has since been used in imaging centers all over the world. The technique allows physicians to capture images of parts of the body, which had been previously difficult to image. The first patient was scanned using the ground-breaking technology in August 1980.

“Previously it had been taking other teams hours to get a poor quality image of a wrist or other small body part,” said Tom Redpath, PhD, one of Dr. Hutchinson’s former students. “So when we developed spin-warp and we got really good images of any part of the body in around two minutes…the whole thing took off like a rocket. We thought, ‘Wow! This actually works!’ It was huge fun.”

Dr. Hutchinson received his PhD from the University of St Andrews, where he studied magnetic resonance. He then went on to work at the University of Aberdeen’s Medical Physics program in the 1960s.

Friends and colleagues report that the scientist was equally brilliant yet humble. “Without doubt he was the most capable scientist I ever met. He knew about everything. Not just about MRI, he had an incredibly broad knowledge of science and engineering,” said former colleague David Lurie, PhD. “Jim was also so incredibly modest. He never wanted to take personal credit for anything."

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