UQ’s innovative technology, which is used in most of the world’s MRI machines, has helped more than 8 billion people across the globe.

Electrical engineer meets medical need

This revolutionary innovation started when Professor Stuart Crozier was an undergraduate electrical engineer and took up a vacation placement at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital in the bio-medical engineering department.

Working in the spinal unit, he saw how some of the bio-medical engineers had developed small devices to activate patient muscles, enabling them to do ordinary things like lifting a cup to their mouth.

This inspired Professor Crozier to pledge to use his skills and understanding of technology to benefit patients.

In turn, this led to a placement in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research group at the Mater Hospital in 1988, which was to transform his life and that of so many others.

Collaborating with Professor David Doddrell, at UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging, Professor Crozier co-invented a signal correction technology that corrected magnetic field distortions to produce faster, clearer and more accurate images without adding to the cost of MRI machines.

MRI Innovation

An MRI is a non-invasive, painless diagnostic technique that gives detailed pictures of organs and structures in the body.

It uses a powerful magnetic field to measure the magnetism within a body, creating thin-section images which are used to map and analyse the body in great detail, helping in the diagnosis of many medical conditions.

The UQ-developed MRI technology enables subtle image features to be identified, improving the quality of diagnosis at an earlier stage of disease and increasing the success rate of early medical intervention.

With the help of UQ’s technology transfer company UniQuest, the innovation was licensed to the two largest companies in the MRI industry, Siemens and GE Healthcare.

Professor Crozier’s image correction technology has been incorporated into the MRI machines manufactured by both companies ever since, representing approximately two thirds of all MRI machines on the market and benefiting an estimated eight billion people.

Further MRI innovation and commercialisation

As Director of Biomedical Engineering at UQ’s School of IT and Electrical Engineering, Professor Crozier is a prolific inventor with 24 patent applications to his name as at 2014.

Professor Crozier’s lifework means he has a deep understanding of innovation needs in the marketplace.

In 2005, a new company called Magnetica Ltd was established by UniQuest with Professor Crozier as the founding scientist.

Magnetica was created to commercialise high-performance superconducting MRI magnets for compact, portable MRI machines with the ability to scan human limbs without immersing the whole body in the magnetic field.

By 2014, the company had attracted more than $12 million in investment and grant funding.

Magnetica’s research and innovation in magnet design also led to the development of small 1.5T extremity magnets used in systems sold by GE Healthcare.

It was developed in collaboration with Japan Superconductor Technology, Inc (Jastec), a subsidiary of multinational Kobe Steel, and supported by grant funding from the Queensland Government.

Recognition

For his contribution to the field of MRI, Professor Crozier received the prestigious Australian Academy of Technological Sciences Clunies Ross Award and in 2014 he was also named a UQ Innovation Champion.

Today Professor Crozier and his team are continuing to research and develop innovative imaging technologies, playing a key role in the development of modern MRI and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance systems produced and sold by leading global companies.

They have been working to enhance magnet design, radio-frequency coil design and gradient coil design to develop compact, portable machines and improve the comfort of patients.

More than 30 years of world-leading MRI research and development at UQ has led to multiple commercialisation outcomes, with the proceeds from the first MRI innovation now driving further research to generate new breakthroughs.

Professor Stuart Crozier with MRI scan technology commercialised by UniQuest.
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Sector

Health and Science

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Innovator

Professor Stuart Crozier and Emeritus Professor David Doddrell
UQ School of IT and Electrical Engineering

Impact-overview

Overview

MRI scan technology is changing lives around the world

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Commercialisation

Licensed IP
Patent Application

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