William A. Edelstein

William Edelstein2005-2006
General Electric Corporate Research and Development Center

"For his pioneering developments leading to commercialization of high-resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for medical applications"

Magnetic Resonance Imaging-based on the physics of NMR-is arguably the most innovative and important medical imaging advance since the advent of the X-ray at the end of the 19th century.

Dr. Edelstein joined the General Electric Corporate Research and Development Center in Schenectady, NY in 1980. He spent the next 21 years making key contributions to MRI science and technology and the development of GE's MRI systems. While Edelstein retired in 2001 from the GE Corporate Research and Development Center, he remains active as an independent scientist and consultant and a Visiting Scientist at nearby RPI. He is also a Senior Research Associate at Case Western Reserve University, with whom he has done theoretical research on shielding the pulsed gradient fields in order to reduce eddy-current-induced acoustic noise.

Dr. Edelstein received a BSc in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1965, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974. From 1974-77 he was a postdoctoral Research Fellow at Glasgow University working on gravitational wave detection. He moved to Aberdeen University, also in Scotland, as a Research Fellow from 1977-80, where he was part of a pioneering effort to develop MRI.

His critical contributions to MRI began at Aberdeen where he collaborated in constructing one of the first whole-body scanners and was the primary inventor of the "Spin Warp" imaging method that is still used in all commercial MRI systems.

After joining GE in 1980, his early analysis and experimental work on MRI signal-to-noise ratio helped establish the possibility of what was then high field 1.5 Tesla (64 MHz) imaging and its commercial feasibility. Dr. Edelstein was part of the team that produced the first 1.5 T image and spectra of the head. He collaborated in the development of the RF "birdcage" imaging coil that operated successfully at 64 MHz, and built a version that made the first 1.5 T whole-body image.

He contributed to the design and implementation of distributed gradient windings that produce efficient, highly linear, strong gradients over a large imaging volume and was part of the GE team that developed actively shielded gradients that reduce eddy currents in the magnet cryostat.

He devised electronic decoupling that enabled the use of high spatial resolution RF surface coils in conjunction with RF volume transmit coils. His work with others on surface coil sensitivity analysis led him and others to develop the multicoil NMR phased array, an arrangement that achieves surface coil image quality over a large field of view. Multicoil RF arrays are now a part of all imaging and are the basis for much advanced RF and imaging work in industry and universities.

Recently at GE he elucidated the sources and pathways of acoustic noise generated in MRI systems and assembled an experimental system with substantially reduced noise. He is continuing that work as an independent scientist/consultant in collaboration with university and industrial partners.

Dr. Edelstein is a Fellow of the APS, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and a Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. He was awarded the Gold Medal Prize from the ISMRM in 1990 and in 1991 was named a Coolidge Fellow, GE's highest corporate scientific honor.