Half a million euros to develop better and cheaper MRI scanners
Professor Andrew Webb has been appointed Simon Stevin Master 2017 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, an award that carries a prize of 500,000 euros. Webb, who is Professor of MRI Physics at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), will use this funding to focus on developing new MRI techniques for detecting illnesses at a much earlier stage. He is also developing mobile MRI scanners for use in developing countries.
'Our main aim is to develop new MRI techniques that will allow specialists to formulate better medical diagnoses, so that they can detect illnesses at an earlier stage,' Professor Webb explained. Early diagnosis is crucially important in many diseases that have a good chance of being treated successfully if they are caught early enough. Healthy people in whose families dangerous genetic conditions occur, such as Huntington's disease, would really benefit from better MRI. Not only this, eye tumours and the first symptoms of Alzheimer's can probably be detected better at an earlier stage.
According to the jury of NWO's Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW) domain, Webb has received this award because of his eminent scientific work and for his ability to build bridges between research, the business sector and the clinical environment. In the words of the NWO press release: “His strength lies particularly in seeking solutions that are off the beaten track. In improving MRI imaging he is not looking for expensive technical solutions, but is rather trying to make clever use of simple materials that offer the same advantages. His methods are highly innovative and are already in use in numerous hospitals.'