Andrew Webb wins Huibregtsen Prize for portable MRI scanner
Professor of Radiology Andrew Webb and his collaborative partner Johnes Obungoloch from Uganda have won the 2023 Huibregtsen Prize. They are receiving the prize for their low-cost, portable and durable MRI system for brain scans in developing countries.
Webb’s research team developed a ‘low-field MRI scanner’ that is easy to transport and maintain and is environmentally sustainable. The device is also many times cheaper, at only 1 per cent of the cost of a normal MRI. Webb and Obungoloch’s MRI system produces brain scans that can be used to diagnose treatable diseases in developing countries. The first type is already in use in Uganda.
The jury praised the project for ‘the combination of pure high-tech development with appropriateness for developing countries, along with the important role of knowledge transfer and training.’ That, said the jury, is what makes the MRI project unique.
The Huibregtsen Prize was established in 2005 by the board of The Evening of Science & Society Foundation. It is awarded annually to a recent research project that is innovative and of great relevance to society.
The prize was presented by outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, at Pieterskerk in Leiden on Monday 9 October. Webb received a €25,000 cheque and was presented with a bronze sculpture by artist Wil van der Laan. Obungoloch watched the ceremony via a live video link from Uganda. In addition to the sculpture and prize money, the winning pair also received a workshop at the Lorentz Center in Leiden.
Photo: Roemer Overdiep