Stefan Fischer died suddenly on June 28, 2011. It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague Stefan Ernst Fischer, Ph.D., at age 47. Stefan leaves his wife, Elisabeth, and two sons, Ramon and Urs, to mourn his passing. Stefan was born and raised in Bern, Switzerland where he attended elementary to high school. After graduation, Stefan joined the Swiss Army where he rose to the rank of Captain of the Swiss Army Tank Forces. Following his army duties, Stefan studied Electrical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland while doing research at the Brain Research Institute at the University of Zurich. Stefan completed his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at ETH in 1994, after which he joined Philips Medical Systems as a clinical scientist posted in Andover, MA for the first year and at Washington University in St. Louis, MO until 2000. After leaving St. Louis, Stefan transitioned to an MR Senior System Architect position in Best, The Netherlands. Since 2003, he was the Director of MR Clinical Science North-America for Philips Healthcare in Cleveland, OH. In this position, Stefan headed a team of 20 Ph.D. level scientists and supported clinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging and spectroscopy research at leading Research and Healthcare Institutions in North America.
Since the move to Cleveland, Stefan continued his passion for teaching in addition to his managerial duties. In 2004, he initiated the first Sequence Development Mode and Pulse Programming courses taught in North America, and to date has successfully trained a network of more than 250 Philips collaborators. In 2007, Stefan was appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Department of Radiology at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and more recently had been offered an adjunct faculty position in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Stefan mentored a countless number of students to successful careers within Philips MR and Academic positions.
The innovative contributions that Stefan made to Philips MR, as well as the international MR scientific community, are far too numerous to list. His legacy is reflected in multiple technical developments that have become integral to the Philips MR systems found around the world today. Among these, he was the chief designer for the new digital MR platform on the Achieva system, commercially known as the FreeWave Spectrometer, and was awarded a patent for his invention on Vectorcardiograph-based cardiac triggering, which allowed Philips MR to take an early lead in cardiac MR, and is still sold on state-of-the-art MR systems. Academically, Stefan has authored 3 patents, numerous invention disclosures, and over 30 peer-reviewed publications/book chapters and contributed over 100 papers and invited lectures to scientific meetings.
Stefan will be remembered for these incredible accomplishments, but even more so for his clever teaching style and unique explanations of incredibly complex concepts. His comparison of a perfectly brewed espresso to an inversion-recovery pulse sequence, although not intuitive, could not have been more precise. And he taught all of the students not to make things up, and to simply admit when he or she didn't understand a concept. When needed, he gently reinforced this lesson by subtly asking a series of leading questions, thereby guiding the student to discover the solution and garner a better understanding.