Melville, New York–based Fonar Corp. — the company he founded and chaired — confirmed the Aug. 3 death in a recent news release. Damadian was 86.
Fonar sold its first MRI scanner in 1980. Damien’s Indomitable performed the world’s first full-body MRI scan on July 3, 1977.
“For over 40 years, Dr. Damadian poured his heart and soul into this company,” said his son, Fonar CEO and President Timothy Damadian, in the release.
Damadian also demonstrated a life of great perseverance.
In a 2011 “How I Did It” article in Inc. magazine, Dr. Damadian described the years of intense legal battles in the 1990s that culminated in Fonar eventually securing more than $128 million from General Electric over patent infringement claims. Settlements with Hitachi and Siemens soon followed.
“In 2001, we came out with the only upright MRI machine, for more accurate scanning of the neck and spine,” he said in the article. “Thankfully, we are the only ones in the industry who make it.”
In the early 2000s, Fonar bought large advertisements in major newspapers to protest the 2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine going to Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield — but not Damien — for the invention of MRI.
Despite the Nobel Prize controversy, others recognized the important role Damadian played in making MRI a reality. In 2001, he received the Lemelson-MIT Program’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his “pioneering work in magnetic resonance scanning technology.” The National Inventors Hall of Fame inducted him in 1989, and President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1988, according to Fonar.
Timothy Damadian said of his father: “Throughout all of the trials and tribulations he encountered while achieving this revolutionary medical breakthrough, Dr. Damadian never gave up on his dream. His persistence in the face of great adversity, especially among the scientific community, and his intense passion for trying to cure cancer led to the invention of a machine that has undoubtedly impacted and saved millions of lives.”
Dr. Damadian is survived by three children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.