In Memoriam

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Pierre-Francois Van de Moortele, MD, PhD

March 6, 1959 - November 5, 2022.

Pierre-François Van de Moortele, a leader in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and an early pioneer in the ultrahigh field methodology and radiofrequency transmit field control, passed away on November 4th, 2022. He joined the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the very beginning of the 7 Tesla project with great excitement and made immense contributions to the development of ultrahigh field imaging. He was a pillar of CMRR and ultrahigh field research, and his work will continue to be so. He was a brilliant and passionate scientist, a great and kind human being, and a person with a great sense of humor.

Pierre-François’s vibrant spirit and bright intellect formed his lifelong passion for the explorations in both the arts and sciences. This passion ultimately was the source of his strong desire to understand the origins of the immensely complex capabilities displayed by the human brain and became the guiding light for a career in which he combined his talents in the arts with highest level mastery of medicine and sciences. His career included earliest work at the prestigious Institute Pasteur followed by a medical degree with specialty in Psychiatry from Sorbonne’s Saint Antoine Faculty and finally his Ph.D. During his PhD, he developed methodologies to obtain functional MR images in humans with one of the world’s first 3Ts. His early fMRI related work with Stanislas Dehaene and Denis Le Bihan resulted in his highest cited Nature paper about “Imaging unconscious semantic priming” and strongly informed his next big career direction aligned with his relentless desire to understand brain function using the best available technology.

This led him and his family to leave their beloved France for the United Stated in 2000 to work with the world’s first and at the time highest field MRI scanner, a 7 Tesla scanner, established in CMRR. Thus, CMRR and Minneapolis became Pierre- François’s and his family’s beloved new home. Settling in a small house next to a park close to the Mississippi, Pierre-François fully embraced the openness and independence that life in CMRR holds. At the CMRR, Pierre-François continued his scientific excellence and pioneered key aspects of ultra-high field imaging technology. Pierre-François insights ushered in an entirely new field of parallel transmission and his tools to this day are the foundation for transmit field control. He authored and co-authored more than 175 often highly cited papers and more than 10 patents.

Pierre-François’s friends and colleagues from around the world remember him for his passionate and deeply creative discussions of MR related topics but also of life and philosophy.

Pierre-François is survived by his beloved family, his wife Valerie, his son Tristan, and his daughter Soline and back in France by his parents Conradt and Thérèse Van de Moortele and sisters: Veronique, Catherine, Isabelle, Solange, Sylviane.