Scope and Contents
Title: Lawrence Crooks Radiologic Imaging Laboratory Records
Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2002.08
University of California, San Francisco
Language of Material:
147.25 Linear feet
(90 cartons, 56 oversize posters)
Date (inclusive): 1977-2000
This collection contains records from the UC San Francisco Radiologic Imaging Laboratory (RIL) from its initial funding by
Pfizer Inc. and later Diasonics, and subsequent operation as a unit of Toshiba America. Through laboratory notebooks, correspondence,
and administrative records the progress in developing technology for low field complete body imaging using the MRI is traced.
General Physical Description note:
90 cartons 56 oversize posters + additions
Crooks, Lawrence E
Lawrence E. Crooks was born in Berkeley, California in 1949 and graduated from El Cerrito High School. He received the B.S.,
M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, 1973, and 1978 respectively.
From 1972 to 1976 Crooks was a National Institutes of Health Trainee in Bioengineering. In 1976 he joined the University of
California San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Radiology, Nuclear Medicine Section, Experimental Nuclear Instrumentation Group
as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering. He was appointed Associate Professor in 1981 and Professor in 1985. Teaching
activities at UCSF included a course entitled, Introduction to Nuclear Medicine which he taught with medical physicist Leon
Kaufmann, lectures on NMR Imaging, a series of Radiology seminars and an IEEE Short Course on NMR Imaging for Physicians and
Engineers. He conducted grand rounds in Radiology at UCSF and lectured for Bioengineering students, Visiting Fellows, and
Postgraduate Education courses at various UC campuses and Stanford University. In addition to supervising postdoctoral students,
he interacted closely with researchers in the neurosciences, cardiovascular research and oncology among others. He has lectured
at a wide variety of workshops, short courses, symposia and colloquia to radiology, bioengineering, electrical engineering,
physics, and physician groups as well as the U.S Army.
Serving as a Research Fellow for Toshiba America MRI, Inc. from 1994-2001, he developed numerous MRI systems both clinical
and experimental. His team designed and debugged a high speed digitizer and digital signal processor to demodulate and filter
the MR signal and advised TAMI employees on MR imager design and coordination for the inclusion of digitized RF circuitry
in their products. He holds 22 patents on MR imagers for medical applications. A 0.35 Tesla human whole-body imager was in
operation from 1981-1990 and in its first three years it scanned over 500 patients, generating over 10,000 images. Later it
was devoted to development of advanced imaging techniques.
He collaborated with Principal Research Engineer Mitsuaki Arakawa, John C. Hoenninger, Leon Kaufman and others from RIL on
a series of frequently cited journal articles presenting the leading edge of MRI technological, experimental, and clinical
research and applications (Davis). Papers presented at scientific meetings and conferences included the 1980 American College
of Radiology and FDA Sponsored Conference on New Imaging Modalities, more than ten annual meetings of the Society of Magnetic
Resonance, and the Gordon Research Conference on Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology. International conferences have
included the Congress of Radiology in Brussels in 1981, World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in Kyoto,
and the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Special Seminar in Tsukuba, Japan.
In addition to the groundbreaking Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Medicine textbook published in 1981, Crooks has co-edited
two books and is an author on more than 137 articles on MRI imaging and instrumentation. He has served on the editorial boards
of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, American Journal of Roentgenology and Current Concepts
in Magnetic Resonance Imaging among others. In the years 1986-1989 he received the Radiology Editor’s Recognition Award with
Some of the awards and honors bestowed on Dr. Crooks are the Bechtel Achievement Award in 1972, the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Centennial Key in 1984 as an outstanding young investigator in the Engineering in Medicine
and Biology Group, the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine’s Gold Medal in 1986, and the John P. Robarts Research Institute’s
International Taylor Prize in 1989. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi and was elected
a Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in 1997.
As an active member of IEEE, SMRM, and American College of Radiology, his committee responsibilities have included education
and training, publications, ethics, and program committees. From 1987-1990 he was a member of the Society of Magnetic Resonance
in Medicine’s Board of Trustees.
Dr. Crooks is currently a Research Specialist affiliated with the UCSF School of Medicine’s Department of Anthropology, History
and Social Medicine and an independent consultant.
Radiologic Imaging Laboratory Background
In the atmosphere of the enormous clinical utility of CT scanning in the 1970s, physicians, scientists, and engineers in American
and British corporate and university settings began to devise methods to utilize nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for scanning
the living human body. In 1975 the UCSF Department of Radiology funded a small startup R&D operation involving a handful of
engineers and physicists charged with the task of developing MRI as a viable scanning instrument for soft tissues in the human
On March 9, 1978 the RIL opened an off campus facility in the Cabot, Cabot and Forbes Industrial Park in South San Francisco
with Leon Kaufman as Chief Scientist. In Celebration: 20 Years of Excellence, a 1982 Department of Radiology publication,
stated that “it became clear that there was not enough space on campus to accommodate the equipment needed to support a leading
instrumentation development effort.” The position of RIL was defined in a 1980 report: “While there are several industrial
firms engaged in making diagnostic instrumentation, and there are clinical groups involved in their use as diagnostic tools,
one of the unique attributes of RIL is that physicists, engineers, and medical practitioners are all involved directly in
the development and evaluation of new diagnostic procedures and instruments.”
Larry Crooks was responsible for the operation and improvement of these systems, interacting with physicians to better understand
how pathologies affect the imaging of physical characteristics of tissue. His mission was to create new imaging techniques,
hardware, and software to improve image quality, speed, and sensitivity to pathologies and ease of operation. Improvements
developed at RIL were installed in over 200 systems provided by the manufacturer. Another research goal was to test the use
of low field permanent magnets to expand the availability of MR imaging and to provide an alternate mode to expensive superconducting
magnets. Crooks defined a set of performance goals and designed one of the imager subsystems.
RIL had originally received funding from the Pfizer Corporation under an agreement worked out by Radiology Department Chairman
Alexander Margulis. Pfizer ordered a human sized superconducting electromagnet from Oxford Instruments. It had triple the
field strength of conventional magnets of the time with a homogeneity for imaging. The superior quality of the higher field
images triggered a new generation of MRI machines. In 1981 Pfizer discontinued its imaging activities and Diasonics purchased
the project, continuing its efforts to develop an MRI system capable of whole body images.
A small 0.35 Tesla scanner in routine operation from 1979-1986 was used in testing imaging of animals, primarily rats, and
was replaced by a 0.5 Tesla unit in 1989. “The FDA initially approved MRI’s only for research. In 1985 the FDA decreed MRI
machines no longer experimental.” A 0.35 Tesla human whole-body imager scanned over 500 patients in its first three years,
generating over 10,000 images. UCSF resident Dr. William Bradley cooperated with RIL to initiate patient studies. In 1989
Toshiba acquired the operation to become Toshiba America MRI (TAMI). Personnel from Toshiba’s Nasu Works in Japan communicated
with RIL staff or worked as visiting staff.
Scope and Contents
The materials in this collection were moved from the Radiologic Imaging Laboratory (RIL) off-campus space when it closed and
stored by Lawrence Crooks until they were donated to the Library’s Archives and Special Collections. The records were organized
in the original order in which they were filed in their cabinets. In general, papers belonging to an individual or unit (such
as Marketing and Customer Service) have been kept together.
Materials in the collection include correspondence, memos, laboratory notebooks, test plans and procedures and assembly design
drawings, minutes of work group meetings, system operation binders, slides and videotapes, photographs and scans, large posters
used to present at conferences and scientific meetings, proceedings of conferences, scan log books, reprints and articles,
patent applications and documents, grant proposals and expenditure reports, catalogs and product specifications from equipment
MSS 2002-08 Radiologic Imaging Laboratory, Archives & Special Collections, UCSF Library & CKM
Records were donated to the UCSF Library’s Archives & Special Collections by Lawrence Crooks in 2002.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Library & Center for Knowledge Management. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Archives & Special Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Library & Center for Knowledge Management as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must also be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research, except for restricted patient records.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
University of California, San Francisco
University of California, San Francisco Radiologic Imaging Laboratory