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European Magnetic Resonance Forum

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The Early Days

he European Magnetic Resonance Forum (EMRF) originated at the university laboratory of Nobel Prize winner Paul C. Lauterbur laboratory in the United States in 1982 when some of the European research group members decided that the ideas and basics of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be brought and taught to European scienists and medical doctors.

It is the oldest interdisciplinary institution in Europe devoted to medical and biological magnetic resonance, bridging the gap between the exact sciences and academic medicine.

spaceholder 960   The first Annual Meeting of the EMRF, i.e., the first "European Workshop on Magnetic Resonance in Medicine" was held in Mons, Belgium, in 1983, followed by meetings in Wiesbaden, Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Zurich, Cologne, and Locarno. All these meetings were strictly "invited speakers only". SMRM (today ISMRM), the US-based Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, was the international scientific partner and thus introduced to Europe. The conferences combined one-day multilingual basic courses with a two-day overview of the state-of-the-art of MR technology, and imaging and spectroscopy applications.


Robert N. Muller, a professor of chemistry (left), and Peter A. Rinck, a professor of radiology (right), are the driving force behind EMRF since 1982. They worked together in Paul C. Lauterbur's laboratory at the State University of New York.

spaceholder 960   In 1987, EMRF agreed to cooperate with the young European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology and, after sponsoring the Society since its early days, to support it with the aim of creating one major annual European MR conference and a network to continue EMRF's teaching courses. Both Peter A. Rinck and Robert N. Muller were presidents of ESMRMB and helped stabilizing the European Society during its first years of existence.

In 1987 in London, EMRF as the conference organizer still deputized for the European Society; the meeting in Berlin in 1988 was the first one arranged together by both organizations. The Berlin meeting was a big step forward in the number of participants: 1,100 were officially counted, compared to 250-300 who attended the prior annual meetings. The tremendous success was also due to the fact that this meeting was open to proffered papers. However, the size also changed its mood from a "family" size conference to a more commercially influenced meeting.

spaceholder 960   After organizing together three more conferences, the collaboration with the European Society was discontinued in 1991. The EMRF Foundation was to focus again on scientific courses and small meetings, whereas the ESMRMB was to aim upon annual meetings as a platform for the presentation of European output in MR research and application. EMRF is no membership society, but has a small scientific membership arm (ESMR) to complement its efforts. It is independent of any commercial influence and interests.

Progress 1992

Since then, EMRF has not been involved in large scale conferences but has focused upon small size meetings with less than 250 par­ti­ci­pants ("State-of-the-Art" meet­ings), less than 80 par­ti­ci­pants ("Special Topic" meetings) and less than 30 par­ti­ci­pants (special courses and symposia). The first one after the separation from ESMRMB was "Progress in MRI" in Switzerland in 1992 (picture).

Over the years, several thousand participants from all over the world received an introduction to basic and advanced magnetic resonance and its applications in medicine at such special teaching courses. More than 250 outstanding scientists in their field from Europe and North America shared their knowledge with these participants.

The Foundation has arranged numerous teaching and continuing education courses, mostly in English, but also in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian. Dedicated seminars were aimed at advanced basic and clinical science applications. Upon request, the Foundation will support teaching courses by supplying teaching material and sponsoring speakers. However, strict rules and standards apply for such sponsorships.

animated map

Since 1983, EMRF (and TRTF) arranged conferences, special topic meetings, and courses all over Europe, and in the Middle East and South America.

Widening the Scope and Collaborations

ECR booth

lowly, new ob­ject­ives were added. Dur­ing the last thirty years, the Found­ation was in­creas­ingly ap­proach­ed to pro­vide travel grants, mostly by young scientists from the former East bloc and de­ve­lop­ing count­ries. This in­cludes grants for con­fe­ren­ces or­ga­nized by the EMRF, but also for the Euro­pean Con­gress of Ra­dio­logy (picture) and the annual meetings of the European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology. There has also been an increase in applications for training and research grants, computer equipment, and even clinical radiological equipment. Increased sponsorship, mostly from private sources, has made it possible to add to the number of travel and educational grants.

spaceholder 960   Since 1985, there was an in­ten­si­ve col­la­bo­ra­tion with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, both with WHO's Head­quarters in Ge­neva and with WHO's Re­gio­nal Of­fice in Copen­hagen. WHO spon­sor­ed the EMRF meetings in Co­pen­ha­gen, Monte Car­lo, and Lon­don, thus — during the times of the Iron Cur­tain – open­ing a door for par­ti­ci­pants with po­li­ti­cal tra­vel re­strict­ions.

This sponsorship continued in 1993 when EMRF organized a major conference on "The Impact of MRI on the Health System — Integration of MRI into the Health System and Development of Diagnostic Pathways for its Proper Use" in Lugano and in 2001 with "MRI in Small Communities" (picture).

Lugano 1993

Speakers at the opening session of the conference on "The Rational Use of Diagnostic Imaging" in Lu­ga­no, Switzer­land, in 1993: Albert Baert, Josef Liss­ner, and Alex­an­der Mar­gu­lis — introd­uc­ing scien­ti­fic MR imag­ing to a me­di­cal audi­ence.

Scientific Exchange

mong the special topic seminars organized by EMRF which were important for the developement of research in MR imaging list: "Flow, Diffusion, and Perfusion" (Namur, 1985), "Paramagnetic Contrast Agents in the Central Nervous System" (Düsseldorf, 1989), "Three-Dimensional MRI — An Integrated Update of Three-Dimensional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Three-Dimensional Postprocessing" (Obergurgl, 1992), "New Frontiers in MRI: Heart, Lungs, New Technologies" (St. Moritz, 1996), and "Ethics in Diagnostic Imaging" (Sophia Antipolis, 1999; several follow-ups, the last one in 2019).

Biennial meetings are devoted to the development and applications of contrast agents in MR imaging. The first one was arranged in Trondheim in 1988, followed by conferences in Bordeaux in 1990; Hamburg in 1992; Santiago de Compostela in 1994; Santa Margherita Ligure in 1996; Fuschl (Salzburg) in 1998; Attard (Malta) in 2000; Budapest in 2002, Porto in 2004, Vilnius in 2006, Valencia in 2008, Mons 2010 — and, after reorganization of the infrastructure, a meeting by invitation only in Portugal in late summer 2012, the 14th conference in the series in Spain in February 2013, the 15th in France in 2015, and the 16th in Belgium in 2019.

EMRF's effort to bring together researchers and physicians wanting to apply MRI and MRS fell on a fruitful soil with seminars organized with the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznan in 1985 and 1987, as well as with the Centro Internacional de Fisica and UNESCO in Bogotá, Colombia. Teaching courses were also organized in Hungary, Greece, Norway, France, Egypt, and for several commercial companies at their facilities.


Group picture of participants from all over South America after a three-day Teaching Course covering the basics of MR imaging in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1990 (top) and Wel­come Re­cep­tion before a conference in Valencia, Spain, in 2013 (bottom).

Textbooks and Awards


MRF's text­book "Mag­ne­tic Re­so­nan­ce in Me­di­cine" de­ve­lop­ed into one of the most suc­cess­ful scien­ti­fic text­books in the field. Six print­ed edi­tions were pub­lish­ed since 1984, and the book was translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. It even had a Russian samizdat version during the time of the Soviet Union. The contrast simulation software program "MR Image Expert" was included on a CD. Videotapes and an animated CD version were also available.

After the fifth English edition went out of print, it was decided to turn the sixth edition into a free e-learning textbook on the Internet on the e-learning site www.magnetic-resonance.org. It has become one of the most visited magnetic resonance sites on the world-wide web. In the meantime, the 11th edition has been published (2017) and (beta-) translation into Chinese and Spanish were published in 2016. More translations are being prepared.

For the time being, the 11th edition will be the last web-version. In spring 2018 (followed by a corrected reprint in 2020), the 12th edition was published as a completely revised, updated and enlarged printed hardcover version. More about the latest textbook edition.

spaceholder 960   Since 1986, the European Magnetic Resonance Award, the most prestigious European prize in the field, has been conferred to outstanding scientists.

spaceholder 960   Today, EMRF is a Chapter of The Round Table Foundation (TRTF). It gives the Forum a solid basis for its work and allows new activities.

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