October 28, 2015, by Lindsay Brooke

Tram named after Nottingham’s Nobel Laureate and co-inventor of the MRI scanner

Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Mansfield, one of the world’s most celebrated scientists, has had a Nottingham tram named after him. Sir Peter was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003 for his role in the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – an honour he shared with Paul Lauterbur. Much of that pioneering work was carried out here at The University of Nottingham.

Sir Peter unveiled his name at the Wilkinson Street tram depot in the presence of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham. Here’s a video of the ceremony.

Sir Peter said: “I am truly honoured and very proud to have a Nottingham tram named after me. This ceremony is the city’s recognition of the groundbreaking research that put Nottingham on the map as one of the world centres for MRI research”. Here’s a video of Sir Peter talking about his research.

Sir Peter’s pioneering work at The University of Nottingham played a key role in the invention of the MRI scanner, a non-invasive tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to form detailed images of the body and its internal organs and tissues. This revolutionary technology is now widely used in medicine around the world today. It is estimated that 60 million MRI investigations are performed worldwide each year. These scans play a vital role in diagnosing and planning treatment for numerous medical conditions including cancer, heart disease and problems connected to the brain and spine.

Sir Peter said: “Although my name is on this tram it is important that the people of Nottingham understand I did not work alone. I had the dedicated support of a team of experts. Peter Morris, my PhD student at the time, was one of those experts who helped in our construction the world’s first whole body line-scanning MRI system.  He is now Professor of Physics at The University of Nottingham and heads up the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre. We also have to thank the Medical Research Council and The University of Nottingham – without their support and funding we would not have been able to carry out our research. I thank the City Council again for this recognition of our achievements.”

The extended tram system now serves The University of Nottingham where Sir Peter carried out his research – as well as providing the UK’s first hospital tram stop at the Queen’s Medical Centre, where thousands of patients benefit from his discovery.

Born in 1933, Sir Peter’s interest in science started at an early age and despite being told by a careers teacher that he should “consider a career in something less ambitious,” he followed his dreams and took evening classes whilst working as an apprentice printer in London. He continued in education and eventually received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of London in 1962.

After receiving his PhD and working as a research associate at the University of Illinois in the United States, Sir Peter joined The University of Nottingham in 1964, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1994.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, with lead responsibility for NET at Nottingham City Council, said: “We’re very pleased and proud that Sir Peter chose to pursue his pioneering research in Nottingham.

“His outstanding achievements have contributed so much to the health and wellbeing of society and his ambition of pursuing his education is an inspiration to all aspiring scientists and researchers.”

Steve Lowe, Chief Executive of NET concessionaire, Tramlink Nottingham said: “Sir Peter is one of those people who have really helped to put Nottingham on the world stage and to have one of our new trams named after him is a major honour.

Along with other prestigious accolades he has received during his esteemed career, Sir Peter became an Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham in July 2013.

Sir Peter Mansfield is the latest notable to have one of Nottingham’s Citadis trams named after him. Other legendary characters and local heroes include; writer Alan Sillitoe, playwright and director Stephen Lowe, and mathematician Ada Lovelace.

Here are a few pictures from the ceremony.

Posted in Physics and AstronomyScience