I need to pass on some sad news to the Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
Bill Edelstein died late evening on February 10. While sudden, Bill had been
dealing with a bout of cancer for the past two years. Even so, he had been
working up to the last minute on a project to make quiet MRI gradient
Bill was a former Trustee, Gold Medal winner, and Fellow of the
International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. He was a Fellow of
the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and received the AIP prize for
Industrial Applications of Physics in 2005. He earned his PhD from Harvard
in 1974, and an honorary DSc from the University of Aberdeen in 2007. He was
a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow working on gravitational
waves from 1974-1977, but then switched “fields” to join the MRI team at
Aberdeen as a Research Fellow from 1977-1980.
Following Paul Lauterbur’s idea of using magnetic field gradients to
spatially distinguish NMR signals, the problem of how best to deploy them to
make images became central to the development of MRI in the late 1970’s.
Ultimately three central ideas held sway: the projection or ‘read-out’
gradient; spatially-selective excitation; and phase-encoding or ‘spin-warp’.
Bill Edelstein and the Aberdeen team were responsible for inventing the
‘spin-warp’ method. These techniques dominate MRI technology to this day,
and are at its foundation.
Bill left Aberdeen to work as a scientist in GE’s Schenectady NY research
laboratories in 1980, on developing an ultra-high field whole-body magnet
system. That’s where we first met. The upshot of this was GE’s highly
successful 1.5 Tesla whole body MRI scanner, the bird-cage coil, the phased
array, the contrast-to-noise ratio, the intrinsic signal-to-noise ratio, and
other key contributions to the field made with the Schenectady team.
Bill retired from GE and moved to Baltimore as Visiting Distinguished
Professor in 2007, where he worked on quiet MRI, and RF dosimetry. He is
survived by his wife Fiona, 2 daughters, a son and 2 grandchildren. He will
long be remembered for his critical contributions to the field of MRI. And
as a friend.
Feb 12, 2014