STONY BROOK, NY, September 5, 2018 – A historic achievement in medical technology happened here 45 years ago. Researchers at Stony Brook University, led by chemistry professor Dr. Paul Lauterbur, produced the first two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance image (MRI) in 1973. This ignited a multi-billion-dollar medical industry and paved the way for the usage of MRI as a noninvasive method to detect disease in body tissue, saving countless lives. And today, Stony Brook University and the Long Island Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) are proud to recognize Lauterbur’s achievement as an IEEE Historical Milestone.

A ceremony, held today at the soon-to-be opened Medical and Research Translation (MART) Building, included the unveiling of a bronze plaque, a presentation by Stony Brook and IEEE leadership, and discussion about new research involving MRI techniques, such as its use for personalized medicine and brain mapping. This is a prestigious achievement: one of fewer than 200 IEEE Milestones worldwide, and only the third to be honored on Long Island.

“MRI changed medical diagnostics around the world, and all that began right here at Stony Brook,” said Tom Coughlin, president-elect at IEEE-USA. “IEEE is thrilled to recognize the legacy of Dr. Lauterbur’s life-saving achievement with a Historical Milestone plaque.”

To further honor the Lauterbur’s contributions, Stony Brook University has named the roadway leading up to the MART building “Lauterbur Drive.” President Stanley and Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, will present a replica of the road sign to three of Lauterbur’s family members in attendance.

“The MRI is one of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr, MD, President of Stony Brook University. “Few people stop to consider how MRI technology came into existence. But at Stony Brook, we know the story very well. Lauterbur’s transformative work truly changed the course of modern medicine and trajectory of our great university.”

Lauterbur’s discovery has had enormous impact on medicine around the world, and he shared a Nobel Prize for his work in 2003.

“Stony Brook Medicine has built on Dr. Lauterbur’s pioneering legacy with a proud history of revolutionary medical breakthroughs,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “We can rightfully be called the birthplace of modern imaging, including MRI and PET technology, and continue to transform the way medical care is delivered across the world.”

Lauterbur’s daughter Elise, a doctoral candidate in Stony Brook’s Department of Ecology and Evolution, is continuing her father’s legacy of commitment to science and education.

Five years ago, Stony Brook University Hospital became one of the first 10 hospitals in North America to provide simultaneous PET/MRI imaging for patients. With the opening of the MART building in November, Stony Brook researchers will continue using cutting-edge technology to create new ways to observe, diagnose and improve cancer treatments.


About Stony Brook University  

Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

About IEEE Long Island Section

The IEEE Long Island Section encompasses the counties of Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island, NY. It’s the largest professional organization on Long Island. The Section’s membership is composed of engineers, scientists, physicists, computer scientists, medical doctors, software developers, lawyers, information technology professionals and many others in addition to the electrical and electronics engineering core. In 2018, the IEEE Long Island Section celebrated its 65th Anniversary of serving its members, the public and students on Long Island with technical presentations, symposia & conferences, sponsoring University programs and helping introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) technology careers to young people.


IEEE-USA serves the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of nearly 180,000 engineering, computing and technology professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.

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Corey Ruth
Media Relations Associate, IEEE-USA Communications

John Yaglenski
Director, IEEE-USA Communications