March 1, 2017, by Liz Cass

Sir Peter’s final journey

Hundreds of University of Nottingham staff and students, friends, colleagues and family have paid their final respects to Sir Peter Mansfield.

On route to St John’s Church in Beeston the funeral cortege passed through University Park, marking the illustrious career Sir Peter had forged in Nottingham.

The journey took in the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, named in honour of his pioneering work to change the face of modern medical science, and passed his former office in the Physics building.

Sir Peter pioneered the creation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), one of the most important and revolutionary breakthroughs in modern medical science.

Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham led the tributes in church.

He said: “In 1928, as King George V and Queen Mary were set to open the Trent Building in University Park, Sir Jesse Boot wrote that the University would spread the light of learning and knowledge and bind science and industry in the unity that is so essential for the prosperity of the nation and the welfare of our fellow citizens. With 22,000 MRI machines around the world and 60 million scans taking place each year Sir Peter Mansfield and MRI delivered on Sir Jesse Boot’s vision.

“He was a great scientific leader, a visionary, a proud member of our university and we will miss him greatly.”

Together with the late Paul Lauterbur, Sir Peter harnessed nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to visualise the internal structure of complex objects.

In 1976 they produced the first human NMR image, a finger complete with bone, bone-marrow, nerves and arteries. Two years later, Sir Peter became the first person to step inside the very first whole-body scanner, so that it could be tested on a human subject — despite warnings that it could be potentially dangerous.

Their research revolutionised the world of diagnostic medicine and in 2003 received world acclaim when they shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Sir Peter stayed at The University of Nottingham for his entire career, retiring in 1994. He was made Emeritus Professor and continued to collaborate with colleagues, remaining passionate about his work.

The student who became a friend

His former PhD student Professor Peter Morris CBE, Head of Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre,  also gave tribute to Sir Peter. He said: “You were the defining influence on my professional life. You gave the world MRI and we’re all the beneficiaries. You dedicated your life to it and now it’s your time to rest in peace.”

Since his death on 8 February people from all around the world have paid tribute to his work.

One online comment said: “MRI has become such a routine investigation in our daily life. It helps multitudes of patients and their physicians come to a diagnosis and relevant treatment. The extent of its impact is immeasurable. That truly is the mark of his contribution.”

Another on Facebook read: “An MRI scan found my spinal cord tumour so it could be treated before it paralysed me. RIP.”

Sir Peter is survived by his wife, Lady Mansfield, his two daughters and four grandchildren.

The University has set up an online book of condolence and a picture gallery of Sir Peter through the years

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