Andrew Webb wins Huibregtsen Award for Affordable MRI Scanners

News - 18 October 2023 - Communication EWI

High field MRI expert, Professor Andrew Webb of the Microelectronics department, and his Ugandan collaborator, Johnes Obungoloch, have been awarded the 2023 Huibregtsen Prize. Their notable achievement is the creation of an affordable, portable, and long-lasting MRI device tailored for brain imaging in developing nations.

Webb's team introduced a 'low-field MRI scanner' that boasts ease of transportation, maintenance, and ecological sustainability. Ever better, Webb’s new device is priced at just 1% of the typical MRI system. The brain scans generated by their MRI are instrumental in diagnosing curable diseases in underdeveloped regions, with the first model already operational in Uganda.

Highlighting its distinctive nature, the jury commended the initiative for merging top-tier technology development with suitability for developing regions. They also lauded the emphasis on knowledge dissemination and instruction.

The Huibregtsen Prize, founded in 2005 by The Evening of Science & Society Foundation board, is an annual award recognizing pioneering research projects with profound societal implications.

The accolade was handed over by the departing Minister of Education, Culture, and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, on 9 October at Pieterskerk, Leiden. Professor Webb was granted a €25,000 check and a bronze artwork from Wil van der Laan. Meanwhile, Obungoloch tuned into the event via a live stream from Uganda. In addition to the monetary prize and artwork, the duo also earned a workshop at the Lorentz Center in Leiden.