Dr. Raymond Damadian, who built the first magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which revolutionized doctors’ ability to diagnose cancer and other illnesses — but who, to his dismay, saw the Nobel Prize for the science behind it go to two others — died on Aug. 3 at his home in Woodbury, N.Y. He was 86.
Since Dr. Damadian and his research assistants finished building the first M.R.I. scanner more than 40 years ago, it has become an essential piece of medical equipment, allowing doctors to peer inside the human body with more detail and greater resolution than X-rays and CT scans provide, without exposing patients to damaging radiation as many other technologies do.
Raymond Vahan Damadian was born on March 16, 1936, in Manhattan, and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens. His father, Vahan, an Armenian immigrant from Turkey, was a newspaper photoengraver; his mother, Odette (Yazedjian) Damadian, was an accountant.
Raymond studied violin for several years at Juilliard but diverted to science when he received a Ford Foundation scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He majored in mathematics there and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He received his medical degree four years later from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and then became a fellow in biophysics at Harvard, where he became familiar with nuclear magnetic resonance technology.