TRIBUTES have been paid to the Aberdeen academic who invented the world’s first full body MRI scanner.

Professor James Hutchison, who has died aged 77, built the ‘Mark 1’ machine which successfully scanned its first patient on August 28, 1980 at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

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He helped patent a ‘game-changing’ technique, known as spin-warp imaging, which was adopted throughout the world and is still used today in hundreds of thousands of MRI machines globally.

The Herald: The ‘Mark 1’ – world’s first full body MRI scanner The ‘Mark 1’ – world’s first full body MRI scanner

The technology behind MRI was developed in the 1970s by a small number of teams worldwide, including those at Aberdeen and Nottingham Universities in the UK.

However, it was Professor Hutchison who built the first full-body scanner, along with a team that included Dr Bill Edelstein, and developed spin-warp which changed the face of MRI research "overnight".

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Professor Tom Redpath, a PhD student under Professor Hutchison at the time of the breakthrough, said: “Previously it had been taking other teams hours to get a poor quality image of a wrist or other small body part, 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.”

Professor Hutchison attended Blairgowrie High School before completing a PhD at the University of St Andrews.

Having developed an expertise in Magnetic Resonance, he was appointed to the University of Aberdeen’s Medical Physics team in the 1960s by Professor James Mallard.

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Professor David Lurie, who joined Prof Hutchison’s team as a young researcher, said he was a "brilliant scientist".

Prof Lurie said: “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.

“Jim was also so incredibly modest. He never wanted to take personal credit for anything."

Professor Steve Heys, head of the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, said: “Along with the team around him, they were a group that have changed the face of medical imaging – an impact still felt today with the use of their techniques in modern MRI machines.

"Our thoughts are with his wife Meg, who herself was an accomplished MRI scientist at Aberdeen, at this sad time.”

Professor Hutchison died on Tuesday September 4. His funeral will be held on Friday September 14 at 11.30am, Westhill, Aberdeenshire.