Ian Young OBE FREng FRS (1932-2019)

 10 October 2019   Institute News

Notice prepared by Richard Syms in consultation with Ian’s family and close colleagues.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ian Young.

Ian Young was a Visiting Professor and Senior Research Investigator in the EEE Department for around 20 years, working with the Optical and Semiconductor Devices Group. Prior to that, he led the highly successful Physics and Engineering Group at the Robert Steiner Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit at Hammersmith Hospital from its initiation until 1997. During this time, it was responsible for many of the features that are now commonplace in magnetic resonance imaging worldwide. He published over 240 papers and was granted in excess of 50 patents, the vast majority relating to the development of MRI and MRS. The precursor of the MRI Unit was formed in 1980 to support the evaluation of the first commercial whole body cryogenic magnet. The Unit was constructed with a joint clinical and basic science management, and this structure is maintained today within the Imaging Sciences Dept. (ISD).

Prior to that, Ian worked for EMI from 1976 to 1981, then for GEC from 1981 to 1982, when he became Chief Scientist of the NMR division of Picker International upon its creation. While at EMI, he and a colleague (Hugh Clow) acquired the first MR image of a human brain. In recent years his research focussed on novel magnet designs for mobile scanners, magic angle scanning, robotic tools for interventional MRI (particularly, endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography and prostate biopsy), MR thermometry, internal imaging systems, and the application of metamaterials to MRI.

Throughout his time at Imperial, Ian was always creative and inspiring. He worked with the Electrical, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Departments, and also with the Faculty of Medicine. He collaborated widely with UK hospitals including the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (Queen’s Square), the Royal Marsden Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, the Hammersmith Hospital, St George’s Hospital Tooting and CRUK Cambridge. His US collaborators included Huntingdon Medical Center, Los Angeles, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Tennessee, and UC San Diego Medical Center.

Ian was awarded a BSc in Physics at Aberdeen University in 1954, and a PhD in Physics on Optical Metrology at Aberdeen in 1958, where his supervisor was Prof. R.V. Jones (famous for his role in electronic warfare in WW2). He was President of SMRM* from 1991 to 1992 and Secretary of ISMRM* from 1993 to 1996. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1970, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1988, Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists in 1990, and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2017. He was made OBE in 1986, won the Gold Medal of SMRM in 1988, the Silver Medal of ISMRM in 1994 and the Royal Academy of Engineering Sir Frank Whittle Prize in 2004.

* Society / International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine