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Andrew Webb receives 2017 Simon Stevin Master Prize

Andrew Webb, Professor of MRI Physics at LUMC and teacher at the Physics education at Leiden University, has been awarded the 2017 NWO Simon Stevin Master Prize. The prize includes a cash award of 500,000 euros. Webb is planning to use the prize to develop new MRI techniques that allow diseases to be detected in much earlier stages.

Prominent

Prof. Webb is truly deserving of the Simon Stevin Master Prize for his prominent scientific research and the way he builds bridges between research, industry and hospitals. His particular strength is finding solutions off the beaten track. His work to improve MRI images does not necessarily use expensive technological solutions, but instead makes clever use of simple materials that offer the same benefits. His methods are considered highly innovative and are already being used at various hospitals.

The directors of the NWO Domain Applied Engineering Sciences (AES) highly rate Webb’s special approach which ensures that his innovative research is immediately applicable. It contributes to the Netherlands’ prominent position in the field of medical imaging.

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a technique that makes detailed images of the body using powerful magnetic fields. MRI scans generate clear images of even the most minor abnormalities. Webb nevertheless feels there is room for improvement. ‘Our most important goal is to develop new MRI techniques that allow better medical diagnoses to be made and therefore diseases to be detected earlier,’ he says.

Early diagnosis is of vital importance in diseases that can still be treated readily in the earlier stages. Healthy people with a family history of hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease, could benefit greatly from improved MRI scanners. Eye tumours and the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s are other examples of diseases that would benefit from detection in the earlier stages.

To realise the new MRI techniques, Webb’s team uses a very powerful magnet of which there are only about sixty available around the world. They are designing and building the scanning equipment required themselves. As soon as the technology is mature, they will bring it to market through various partners companies.

Simon Stevin Meester

Every year, the directors of the NWO Domain Applied Engineering Sciences (AES) appoint one or more prominent scientists as Simon Stevin Master. The title is the largest prize for technical scientific research in The Netherlands. Webb will accept his prize during TEKNOWLOGY, the AES annual congress on 9 November 2017.