Sir Peter Mansfield

Sir Peter Mansfield, inventor of MRI technology and winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, has died at the age of 83.

I’d been thinking for a few days what to blog about in my first PS Tuition blog, and then I got this news tonight and the topic was obvious. People like Sir Peter are an inspiration to me as a teacher, the sort of person I hold up as an example of what can be achieved with a student is genuinely interested in the work they are doing and encouraged to achieve their potential.

Peter grew up in Lambeth, in London, and remembered being evacuated from the city as a child during World War II. He failed his 11+ and went to a secondary modern school, and left school at 15 years old. He went to work as a printer’s assistant, but managed to get a job in Buckinghamshire after demonstrating an interest in rocket propulsion. Inspired by his work, he studied for his A-Levels part time, before going to study Physics at Queen Mary University in London.

In 1964, he started work at Nottingham University as a Physics lecturer. He worked there until he retired thirty years later.

When he invented MRI technology in 1978, Sir Peter ignored warnings he could be putting himself in danger and became the first person to step inside a whole-body MRI scanner so that it could be tested on a human subject.

His work revolutionised the study of neuroscience and has helped doctors to detect and subsequently treat a host of brain related conditions.

In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

What a brave, determined and wonderful man. Proof positive that just because you don’t achieve the grades you wanted at 11, or at 15/16, that is no reason why you should not achieve your potential later in life when you discover exactly what interests and motivates you.

Don’t give up. Be like Peter.