Professor Sir Peter Mansfield
Sir Peter Mansfield was born on 9 October 1933 and grew up in London. He left school at fifteen to become a printer’s assistant before obtaining a government post at the Rocket Propulsion Department in Westcott, Buckinghamshire. After national service, he studied at night school for the qualifications that gave him entrance, in 1956, to Queen Mary College, University of London, where he studied physics.
Sir Peter’s early work was in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), then being used to study the chemical structure of substances. He joined the Department of Physics, University of Nottingham, in 1964, and by the early 1970s was working on the application of NMR to imaging that led directly to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). He and his team showed how the radio signals from MRI could be mathematically analysed, making possible their interpretation into useful images. A medical diagnostic application was further progressed by the development of a rapid imaging technique called echo-planar imaging. The team presented their first human image (of Mansfield’s abomen) in 1978. For his work in the development of MRI, Mansfield was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2003, which he shared with Paul Lauterbur of the United States.
Amongst Sir Peter’s many awards and honours are the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Prize for MRI (1995), the Gold Medal of the journal Clinical MRI (1995) and a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours (1993). He continues to work on the safety and acoustic screening of MRI.
Download a transcript of the podcasts in Adobe .pdf format.
Video clips are available in HD format via Medical Heritage Library/Internet Archive.School days in South London No qualifications but ambitious to become a scientist Night school and a job in rocketry Queen Mary College, London University, 1956-64 - the beginning of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) First spin echoes in solids Nottingham University, 1964 first NMR images Echo Planar Imaging (EPI) How EPI (echo planar imaging) works The race to image the body, 1978 The worlds first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) movie, 1982 Gradient Coil Screening stabilises the magnetic field, necessary for imaging, 1986 Resolution - the limits of functional imaging Resolution - higher magnetic fields, faster imaging Safety - protecting patients Acoustic Screening noise control New science and the continuing struggle to get publishe