Kamil Ugurbil's groundbreaking research and introduction of innovative ultra-high-field (UHF) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology have fundamentally altered the way brain research is conducted today and paved the way for new clinical capabilities. The MRI technologies developed by Ugurbil for human studies expanded the boundaries of biomedical information content, accuracy, and spatiotemporal resolution of imaging and spectroscopy signals. Ugurbil founded the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota and established it as one of the premier in vivo MR research laboratories in the world. The work that introduced functional MRI, which measures the small local changes in deoxyhemoglobin content that occur with brain activity, was accomplished independently and simultaneously in two laboratories, one of which was Ugurbil’s in the CMRR. Ugurbil led the development of the first 4 Tesla (T) human scanner at a time when 1.0 and 1.5T was the industry norm. His work on 4T MRI was instrumental in the development of commercial 3T scanners for clinical use. His pioneering efforts in pushing human MRI technology to 7T demonstrated the promise of UHF in providing unprecedented improvements in contrast, sensitivity, and specificity for imaging human brain function. The UHF technology pioneered by Ugurbil has emerged as the central tool in the U.S. National Institutes of Health's Human Connectome Project and BRAIN Initiative, two critically important projects in which Ugurbil has played a leading role. Ugurbil is ushering in another new frontier in biomedical research and healthcare by introducing the first 10.5T whole-body human scanner. Further development of UHF MRI for improved measurements of in situ cellular chemistry as well as anatomy and function will enable novel methods for diagnoses and evaluation of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, cardiac disease, and stroke.
An IEEE member and elected to both the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ugurbil holds the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair Professorship in Radiology, Neurosciences, and Medicine and is director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.