Professor Raymond Andrew

Thursday 26 July 2001 00:00 BST

Edward Raymond Andrew, physicist: born Boston, Lincolnshire 27 June 1921; Scientific Officer, Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern 1942-45; staff, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge 1945-48; Stokes Student, Pembroke College, Cambridge 1947-49; Commonwealth Fund Fellow, Harvard University 1948-49; Lecturer in Natural Philosophy, St Andrews University 1949-54; Professor of Physics, University of Wales, Bangor 1954-64; Lancashire-Spencer Professor of Physics, Nottingham University 1964-83, Dean of Faculty of Science 1975-78; Graduate Research Professor, University of Florida 1983-2001; FRS 1984; Fellow, Christ's College, Cambridge 1989-2001; married 1948 Mary Farnham (died 1965; two daughters), 1972 Eunice Tinning; died Gainesville, Florida 27 May 2001.

Professor Raymond Andrew had an extraordinary impact on the field of nuclear magnetic resonance, or NMR, a spectroscopic technique used to study molecular interactions and hence elucidate molecular structure in solids, liquids and gases, originally discovered in 1946.

In the early 1950s Andrew performed a number of seminal NMR experiments in solids that today stand as textbook classics. He wrote the first textbook on the general topic of NMR. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, published in 1955 by Cambridge University Press, became a standard in the field.

Andrew became increasingly interested in the study of solids and liquids by NMR and was fascinated by the fact that random isotopic motion in liquids was able to remove the bulk of the molecular interactions responsible for the severe line-broadening apparent in most solids. It was while pondering these effects that he was led to the idea of physically spinning a solid sample about a preferred axis orientated at a "magic angle" relative to the main magnetic field, in order artificially to narrow the resonance absorption line-width.

This innovation has had an enormous impact in the field of chemistry. Magic-angle spinning (MAS) is now a routine tool that has revolutionised modern studies of chemical structure by NMR: it is used in a significant fraction of all of the current scientific papers that report NMR results.

Andrew's research was characterised by his exceptional ability to see clearly into the fundamentals of his area of physics, and to plan and execute careful, insightful, experimental studies. He had a particular ability, too, to spot and attract the most gifted people to his department at Nottingham University, where he was Lancashire-Spencer Professor of Physics from 1964 to 1980.

Born Edward Raymond Andrew in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1921, he was educated at Wellingborough School and at Christ's College, Cambridge, graduating in Physics in 1942. For the following three years he worked as a Scientific Officer at the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern, measuring the attenuation of microwave radar signals through gun flashes. After the Second World War he returned to Cambridge to the Cavendish Laboratory, where he later did his PhD in low-temperature physics under David Shoenberg.

It was at the weekly student seminars organised by Shoenberg that Andrew first became interested in NMR from the first pioneering papers on the subject. His excitement was kindled by visits to the laboratory from Cornelius Gorter, who had first attempted NMR in 1936, and by the American physicists Felix Bloch, Nicholas Bloembergen and Robert Pound. So, in 1948, he went to Harvard for a post-doctoral year as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow to study this newly emerged subject under Edward Purcell, who later shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics with Bloch.

Returning to the UK, Andrew spent five years as a lecturer in Natural Philosophy at St Andrews University before being appointed Professor of Physics in 1954 in the University of Wales at Bangor.

Upon the retirement of Professor Leslie F. Bates, Andrew was invited to take up the Lancashire-Spencer Chair of Physics at Nottingham. He brought with him Stanley Clough, and recruited Peter Allen, and later, Peter Mansfield and Bill Derbyshire, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana at that time. Under Andrew's guidance, the Physics Department at Nottingham established itself as an internationally recognised hub for NMR research ranging from solid-state NMR to NMR studies of protein structure and water-protein interactions. In 1975, Andrew was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the university.

It was from this fertile NMR environment that two of the three or four groups in the world that were active in NMR imaging (later renamed magnetic resonance imaging or MRI) for most of the 1970s emerged. MRI is the favoured method of imaging the internal structures of the body by clinicians for studing soft-tissue disease in patients.

One of the groups evolved from the innovation of the "sensitive point method" of MRI by Waldo Hinshaw, a post-doctoral fellow in Andrew's laboratory. In early 1974, Hinshaw obtained images of 1cm samples of tubes of water and small onions on a conventional Bruker NMR spectrometer.

Later that year, in August, Andrew and the Department of Physics hosted the 18th Ampère Congress, with presentations from two Nobel laureates, Rudolf Ludwig Mossbauer and Alfred Kastler, as well as a group of papers on MRI from Paul Lauterbur from the US, Jim Hutchison from Aberdeen, Waldo Hinshaw, and Peter Mansfield who headed the other group working on MRI at Nottingham. This meeting was followed two years later at Nottingham by the first international meeting on NMR imaging.

In April 1975, Raymond Andrew, with Bill Moore, a senior lecturer, applied for a three-year grant from the Medical Research Council to build a larger instrument capable of extending Hinshaw's sensitive-point method to human imaging, so enabling the expansion of the team to include Neil Holland and Paul Bottomley in 1975 and, later, Brian Worthington, a radiologist.

By 1977 they had constructed a medium-scale MRI scanner and obtained some first images of the human forearm and small animals in vivo. They also performed the first analysis of power deposition and RF penetration in whole-body MRI, results which could impact today in the evaluation of radiation safety limits in mobile telephones. In 1978, Andrew and Moore extended this project with a grant from the Wolfson Foundation to build a whole-body MRI scanner. This system, in the charge of Moore and Neil Holland, was completed and used to obtain images of the human head in 1980 and the torso in 1981.

It was about this time that the British government cut back funding for universities. For members of staff a generous early retirement programme was introduced at Nottingham and other universities. This led to an exodus of British talent, especially from Nottingham. Indeed, by the early 1980s, all of the members of Andrew and Moore's MRI group in the Department of Physics had gone to North America, including Andrew and Moore themselves. This exodus ended a sometimes fractious period of internal rivalry at Nottingham. But it also ended a period of unprecedented creativity in MRI, during which the several MRI research groups in the UK had collectively taken MRI from the test-tube to man himself.

Thus, in 1983, Andrew joined the NMR physics group at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He held joint appointments in the Departments of Physics, Radiology and Nuclear Engineering as a Graduate Research Professor. He played an important role in establishing the vision for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida in 1990. He continued an active programme at the University of Florida, with particular interest in 3 Tesla whole-body MRI, and MRI microscopy, thus spanning both ends of the MRI resolution scale.

Andrew was invited by the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine to be the Founding Editor of the society's journal, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in 1984. In 1991 he was awarded the society's Distinguished Service Medal.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1984 and was a joint winner of the Royal Society Wellcome Medal and Prize that year.

Paul A. Bottomley, Peter Mansfield and Peter S. Allen

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