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April 1, 2004

Nobel Laureate Paul Lauterbur to Address Commencement

Nobel Laureate and Pitt alumnus Paul C. Lauterbur will deliver Pitt’s April 25 commencement address, titled “The Road to Pittsburgh and Beyond.”

The Center for Advanced Study Professor of Chemistry and Distinguished Professor of Medical Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lauterbur received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Sir Peter Mansfield of the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. The two were honored for discoveries leading to the development of magnetic resonance imaging.

After he earned a B.S. in chemistry from Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland in 1951, Lauterbur began research the same year at Mellon Institute, receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry from Pitt in 1962. In 1963, he joined the chemistry faculty at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and, in 1985, he became a professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

“While working at the Mellon Institute and trudging up the hill to my graduate chemistry classes at Pitt, I never dreamed that one day I would be invited back to the University of Pittsburgh as its commencement speaker. This is truly a great honor,” said Lauterbur.

Lauterbur’s numerous honors include the National Medal in Science, the National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service to Society, the Gold Medal of the European Congress of Radiology, the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology and the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Award.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus by Pitt’s Department of Chemistry in 2000.

Lauterbur and Mansfield’s work in the 1970s led to MRI’s modern use as a noninvasive and painless medical diagnostic tool. MRI is used to examine almost all organs of the body and is especially valuable for detailed imaging of the brain and spinal cord. More than 60 million MRI examinations are performed worldwide each year.

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