Chair in Biomed Physics & Bio Eng
BSc, MSc, PhD, CPhys, CSci, FInstP, FIPEM
Professor Lurie graduated in Natural Philosophy (physics) at the University of Aberdeen in 1979. He then went to the University of London where he completed an MSc in Radiation Physics and a PhD in Medical Physics at St. Bartholomew's Medical College.
He joined the staff of the University of Aberdeen in 1983 as a research assistant, working with Jim Hutchison on low-field MRI. He was appointed Lecturer in 1985, and soon afterwards began working on methods for detecting free radicals using double magnetic resonance imaging. He was appointed Senior Lecturer in 1992, and to a Personal Chair in Medical Physics in 2002.
Prof. Lurie has been a Visiting Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Visiting International Scholar at Ohio State University. He is author of 70 peer-reviewed publications, 7 book chapters, 5 patents and over 200 conference abstracts. He has given 74 invited, keynote and plenary lectures at conferences and workshops around the world, as well as many invited seminars.
His research is concerned with the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology and its applications, primarily in bio-medicine. Previous work by Lurie and his team included Proton-Electron Double-Resonance Imaging ("PEDRI") imaging of free radicals, and continuous-wave MRI of solid materials. His current research is focussed on the development and use of Fast Field-Cycling magnetic resonance imaging (FFC-MRI). In addition to leading his own research group, Professor Lurie is the Coordinator of an EU-funded research project, "IDentIFY", with 9 teams in 6 countries working to improve FFC-MRI; the IDentIFY project web site is here. He is also Vice-Chair of the EU COST Action scientific networking initiative, "European Network on NMR Relaxometry" (2016-2020).
In this video, Prof. David Lurie explains the rationale behind FFC-MRI and its potential benefits. David Lurie and post-doctoral Fellow Lionel Broche are seen with the team's experimental FFC-MRI scanners.
The research conducted by Professor Lurie and his team concerns the development and use of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods, in order to extend the range of applications of MRI.
Fast field-cycling MRI
The research group's most recent research project is on Fast Field-Cycling MRI (FFC-MRI). Instead of keeping the applied magnetic field absolutely constant - as is usual in MRI - in FFC-MRI the magnetic field is deliberately switched rapidly, during the acquisition of image data. In this way it is possible to measure the NMR relaxation times (for example) of tissues as a function of magnetic field, thereby gaining access to new, and potentially very valuable, contrast mechanisms to highlight differences between normal and diseased tissues.
The project was featured in an article in Issue 6 (Autumn 2007, p21) of the magazine ScienceScotland, published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. An article on the FFC-MRI work was published in the Spring-Summer 2008 issue of Aberdeen University's Innovate magazine.
In 2007 we received £2.4M from the RCUK's Basic Technology grant scheme for a project (2007-2011) to build new FFC-MRI imagers and to investigate potential applications of FFC-MRI in bio-medical research. In 2011 we received a further year's funding of £200k from EPSRC to investigate the feasibility of performing FFC-MRI on clinical MRI scanners using add-on hardware and software. In 2012 we secured funding from EPSRC to further develop FFC-MRI to work at zero magnetic field, with applications focussed on enhanced diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions.
In 2015 we succeeded in securing funds from the European Union's Horizon 2020 scheme for a multi-centre collaborative research project on FFC-MRI. The project, entitled "Improving Diagnosis by Fast Field-Cycling MRI" (acronym "IDentIFY") is led and coordinated by the University of Aberdeen, with Lurie as PI, and comprises a consortium of nine teams in six EU countries, with eight academic partners and two industrial SMEs. The total budget for the four-year project is €6.60m.
Free radical imaging
A major interest over the years has been the development and use of MRI techniques for imaging the distribution of free radicals. Free radicals are defined as molecules with one or more unpaired electron in their outer orbitals. They are known to be involved in normal metabolism, and it is widely believed that changes in their concentration can occur during the early stages of many diseases, including most inflammatory diseases, ischaemic heart disease, and possibly cancer. However, the evidence for free radical involvement has been mainly indirect, so there is a need for a method that can detect and image the distribution of free radicals in the body. This would greatly benefit research into the pathogenesis of many diseases, and would allow comparison of treatment regimes in animal models of human disease. If the imaging techniques can be made sufficiently sensitive, it may be possible to monitor the progress of free radical-generating diseases in humans.
In 1987 Prof. Lurie's group pioneered a new method of imaging free radicals called Proton-Electron Double-Resonance Imaging (PEDRI). This combines electron spin resonance (ESR) with MRI and enables high-resolution images of free radical distributions to be generated. Our research is aimed at improving the sensitivity of PEDRI, so that lower concentrations of free radicals can be detected, and also at speeding up the imaging process. This involves designing and building new hardware (magnets, radiofrequency coils, etc.) and developing new "pulse sequences" (control software).
MRI of solid materials
Another project is concerned with imaging solid materials by MRI. Most rigid solids exhibit extremely short NMR relaxation times (specifically, T2), making them impossible to image by conventional MRI. For example, the rigid polymer Perspex (polymethylmethacrylate) has a T2 relaxation time of about 15 µs. The problem with conventional MRI is that it uses pulsed excitation and pulsed magnetic field gradients - if the sample's T2 is very short, the NMR signal will have disappeared before it can be detected. Our approach is to use continuous-wave (CW) detection, so we call our method continuous-wave MRI (CW-MRI). Instead of applying pulses of radiowaves to excite the nuclear spins, we continuously bathe the sample with very low-power radiowaves, and continuously "listen" for a response. In this way, images can be obtained, even from samples like Perspex with extremely short relaxation times.
Prof. Lurie has visited Khon Kaen University, Thailand on numerous occasions, to lecture on MRI physics. He has also helped to organise, and lecture on, four one-week MRI Schools there (in 1996, 2003, 2006 and 2013).
Professor Lurie regularly reviews grant proposals for the UK Research Councils, Charities, the European Union, and other international bodies. He is a regular reviewer of manuscripts for a number of major journals in the field of MRI.
Prof. Lurie was appointed as External Examiner for the MSc in Physical Sciences in Medicine, at Trinity College Dublin (2007-10).
He served as External Examiner for the Master of Medical Physics programme at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011-14); he is currently an External Advisor for the degree programme (2014-19).
He is a member of the Fellowship Panel of the Institute of Physics.
He serves as a member of the Physics in Radiology Subcommittee of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) (2014-2016), and has been appointed Chair of that subcommittee for the 2017 conference. He has been appointed to the Programme Planning Committee of ECR for the 2018 congress.
Professor Lurie was the Chair of the Organising Committee and host of the 9th Conference on Fast Field-Cycling NMR Relaxometry, which was held at the University of Aberdeen from 27th to 30th July 2015.
Prof. Lurie has been appointed as Vice-Chair of the EU COST scientific networking initiative "European Network on NMR Relaxometry" (2016-2020).
Prof. Lurie is a College Postgraduate Officer, with responsibilities for overseeing and monitoring postgraduate taught and research programmes. He also sits on various university committees, including the Graduate School Committee of the College of Life Sciences and Medicine and the University's Quality Assurance Committee.
A complete list of publications can be found here.
Prof. Lurie's CV can be found here.