In Memoriam

Nathaniel Reichek (2021)

It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of Nathaniel Reichek MD, one of the founding fathers of the field of CMR and winner of the SCMR Gold Medal in 2017. Below we summarize his career and contributions to the field.

Nat received his undergraduate (summa cum laude, class salutarian) and MD (AOA) degrees from Columbia University and then trained in Medicine at Albert Einstein. He completed his cardiology fellowship at Georgetown University under the tutelage of Joseph Perloff MD and then followed his mentor to the University of Pennsylvania as junior faculty. He was at Penn for 20 years, rising to the rank of Full Professor and director of the Noninvasive Laboratories. In 1992 he moved to Allegheny General Hospital as Chief of the Cardiology Division where he remained until 2002 at which time he took on the position as Director of the Research and Education Department at St. Francis Hospital and Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at SUNY Stony Brook. He stepped back to part-time status in 2016 to continue his research in CMR.

Nat was of service to SCMR since its inception as he was present when the society was first proposed in a hotel conference room in Dallas during the 1994 AHA Annual Scientific Session. He was the 3rd President of SCMR and led it during a time when it was still finding its way, bridging a potential divide between Europe and the U.S. at a critical time in the society’s development. He was a strong leader and did well at bringing disparate minds together. He was able to problem solve at a moment’s notice especially during the annual meeting, finding multiple last-minute replacement speakers and averting a potential crisis for the nascent society. He had multiple other roles in the society as well, including Chair of the Clinical Trials Committee, the Nominating Committee, the U.S. Reimbursement Subcommittee, the Publications Committee, and member of the US Chapter Executive Committee and the Mentorship Program. He worked hard on reimbursement and other financial issues on behalf of the U.S. Chapter. He was a fixture within multiple international cardiology societies including the AHA and ACC, always representing SCMR extremely well. For many years, he and the SCMR were practically synonymous.

Nat contributed greatly to research in CMR for 3 decades. He was one of the first cardiac imagers, along with Gerry Pohost and Charley Higgins, to delve into the field in its very earliest days. One of his earliest contributions was the 1989 paper by Aurigemma et al in Circulation “Noninvasive determination of coronary artery bypass graft patency by cine MRI” which used cine to document graft patency. His long-term collaboration with Leon Axel PhD, MD at the University of Pennsylvania is legendary as they published a series of manuscripts regarding the use of myocardial tagging to characterize intramural function, first in normal subjects and then in myocardial infarction, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and other disease states. He was involved over the years with many of the novel applications of CMR including tagging and late gadolinium enhancement. He was one of the principal investigators of the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study that has made many contributions to our understanding of chest pain and coronary artery disease in women. He authored over 180 full peer-reviewed publications, many in the highest impact cardiovascular journals as well as more than 70 reviews and editorials. He was a leader in the cardiovascular research community. He chaired Cardiovascular A study section for the NHLBI/NIH several years after completing his term as a member. He also chaired AHA study section reviews. He was on the editorial boards of multiple cardiology journals including Circulation and JACC as well as JCMR and other subspecialty imaging journals.

Nat was a legendary diagnostician, and passed on the “Perloff Pearls” of physical examination to several generations of physicians. He volunteered to teach medical students and residents these skills throughout his career, and delighted in examining patients with unique findings that the fellows would try to “stump” him with. He was a master of the Socratic method at the bedside, and his skill in teaching deductive reasoning and medical decision-making was unmatched.

Arguably, Nat’s greatest contribution to the field of SCMR was his mentorship. He mentored 2 past presidents of the SCMR (Christopher Kramer MD and Victor Ferrari MD). His list of previous imaging trainees and junior faculty reads like a Who’s Who of cardiac imaging and includes Richard Devereux MD at New York Hospital, Pamela Douglas MD, past-President of the ACC, Joao Lima MD, Gold Medal Awardee and Director of Cardiovascular Imaging at Johns Hopkins, the late Martin St. John Sutton MD, former head of the Noninvasive Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, Gerard Aurigemma, Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts, and Jane Cao MD, Director of Cardiac Imaging at Catholic Health System of Long Island. He was a terrific teacher of research methodology and a highly skilled scientific writer and editor. He was an exemplary research mentor.

Nat Reichek was truly a quadruple threat in the field of CMR – a leader, researcher, clinician, and mentor. He will be sorely missed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Reichek family.


Christopher M. Kramer, MD

Victor Ferrari, MD

Subha Raman, MD

Dr. Sohrab Fratz (1970 - 2016)

It is with great sadness that the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance reports the recent loss of Dr. Sohrab Fratz. 

Dr. Fratz was the Head of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance at Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Heart Disease.  He was very active in the CMR community working with both the SCMR and the EACVI to develop multiple consensus papers on CMR indications and approach to children with heart disease.  With a focus on congenital heart disease, Dr. Frantz published over 90 articles and was a congenital heart disease expert for multiple SCMR Scientific Sessions and SCMR Cases of the Week.  He will be remembered not only as a proliferative academician but as a friend, mentor and one who has made a lasting impression on how children with heart disease are managed around the globe. 

Our thoughts are with his family and children who can be proud to have a father who had achieved so much.  In honor of these achievements, SCMR plans to dedicate a lecture at the upcoming SCMR Scientific Sessions in Dr. Fratz’s name.  Condolences for his family can be sent to Heiko Stern (, his close friend and colleague at the German Heart Center, who will pass them on in due time.

William Edelstein (1944 - 2014)

Bill Edelstein died early on February 10, 2014. While sudden, Bill had been dealing with cancer for the past two years. Even so, he had been working up to the prior evening on a project to make quiet MRI gradient systems.

Bill was a former Trustee, Gold Medal winner, and Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and received the AIP prize for Industrial Applications of Physics in 2005. In May 2013, he was awarded the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received his undergraduate degree in Physics. He earned his PhD from Harvard in 1974, and an honorary DSc from the University of Aberdeen in 2007. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow working on gravitational waves from 1974-1977, but then switched “fields” to join the MRI team at Aberdeen as a Research Fellow from 1977-1980.

Following Paul Lauterbur’s idea of using magnetic field gradients to spatially distinguish NMR signals, the problem of how best to deploy them to make images became central to the development of MRI in the late 1970’s. Ultimately three central ideas held sway: the projection or ‘read-out’ gradient; spatially-selective excitation; and phase-encoding or ‘spin-warp’. Bill Edelstein and the Aberdeen team were responsible for inventing the ‘spin-warp’ method. These techniques dominate MRI technology to this day, and are at its foundation. 

Bill left Aberdeen to work as a scientist in GE’s Schenectady NY research laboratories in 1980, on developing an ultra-high field whole-body magnet system, which became GE’s highly successful 1.5 Tesla whole body MRI scanner.  Bill’s other accomplishments made with the Schenectady team.
include developing the bird-cage coil, the phased array, the contrast-to-noise ratio, and the intrinsic signal-to-noise ratioto name a few.

Bill retired from GE and moved to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore as Visiting Distinguished Professor in the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science in 2007, where he worked on quiet MRI, RF dosimetry, and the fast MRI (e.g., <10 minute exam). He is survived by his wife Fiona, two daughters, a son and two grandchildren. He will long be remembered for his critical contributions to the field of MRI and as a friend.

Stefan Fischer (1963 - 2011)

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.

Philip Batchelor (1967 - 2011)

Philip Batchelor remains in our memories as a bright mind with an impressive commitment to mathematical detail and, above all, as a very fine person.

Among his many fields of activity, Philip made significant contributions to CMR by defining non-rigid motion correction as an image reconstruction problem. The idea of formulating MR signal encoding in the presence of motion in matrix form triggered a very successful field of research, which subsequently permitted significant advances in treating and correcting motion artifacts in CMR perfusion, cine and angiographic imaging.

Philip was born in St Austell, UK but grew up in a small village near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He studied Theoretical Physics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland before continuing towards a PhD degree in Mathematics, which he obtained in 1997 from the same institution. Thereafter he decided to go back to his country of birth and joined King’s College London to work on the application of mathematical principles in MRI. In 2005 he moved to the University College London before returning to King’s College in 2006 to become a Senior Lecturer for Imaging Sciences.

Philip was a committed teacher and was patiently assisting his colleagues and students with tutorials in mathematics. He recognized the need for education within the medical imaging academic community and organized a highly successful “Maths for Medical Imaging” summer school, which has since formed the basis of an ongoing component of the Kings College Medical Physics Masters program.

The scope of Philip’s research extended further including diffusion tensor reconstructions of the beating heart. He and his group were the first to present 3D fiber reconstructions of the in-vivo heart of humans. Compressed sensing also attracted his interest more recently. His work on k–t group sparse methods has significantly pushed the acceleration limits for dynamic MRI of the heart. 

Philip died in a climbing accident on 30 August 2011.

Walter J. Rogers, Jr. (1952 - 2006)

Walter J. Rogers Jr. PhD, Associate Professor of Radiology and Medicine at the University of Virginia passed away in 2006 of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at the age of 53. He is survived by his wife Peggy, son Andrew, daughter Brittany, and a legion of friends, colleagues, and trainees who immensely enjoyed working with him due to his ease of manner, generosity of spirit, and collaborative nature.

Walt was truly a pioneer in cardiovascular magnetic resonance. He was initially trained as a radiation physicist at Johns Hopkins and worked there in the laboratory of Lewis Becker MD for several years in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Under the guidance of Myron L. Weisfeldt MD, then chief of Cardiology at Hopkins, Walt moved into the emerging field of CMR, working with Edward Shapiro MD at the then Francis Scott Key Medical Center, now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Walt was a key contributor to the fundamental concepts and an author on the original paper with Elias Zerhouni MD describing the novel technique of myocardial tissue tagging that has since been adapted and applied to many varied cardiac conditions. He and Dr. Shapiro studied basic myocardial mechanics with CMR tagging, noninvasively defining normal myocardial rotation and long-axis shortening and the relation of myocardial strain to fiber orientation. They also performed the original validation of LV mass measurements by CMR in acute infarction.

Walt moved to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh in 1993 where he teamed with Christopher Kramer M.D.and Nathaniel Reichek M.D. for several years, continuing his work in applying CMR tagging and contrast-enhanced techniques to animal models and patients with acute myocardial infarction. His 1999 Circulation paper demonstrated the important finding of the lack of recovery of function after acute MI in humans in regions with hypoenhancement early after gadolinium infusion, regions of microvascular obstruction. Drs. Rogers and Kramer demonstrated the utility of CMR tagging in characterizing changes in regional function early and late after acute MI and the response to low-dose dobutamine and were among the first to safely image patients who had recently been stented for acute MI. 
Walt went on to expand his interests into the bourgeoning field of vascular biology and garnered a PhD during this time. Simultaneously he began to use intravascular CMR catheters with receiver coils to image atherosclerotic plaque ex vivo and then in vivo, a difficult task that Walt took on with his usual aplomb and positive attitude, the same attitude he would later apply to his illness. 

In 2002, Walt joined the growing CMR group at the University of Virginia and blended in quickly as always. He continued his work in intravascular and interventional CMR, working on novel devices and strategies for imaging with them, collaborating skillfully with cardiologists, radiologists, engineers, and industrial colleagues. He also began to apply his knowledge of vascular biology to molecular CMR, collaborating with chemists to harness iron oxide particles to antibodies that would recognize inflamed endothelium. Until a month before his untimely death, he was revising an NIH R01 on this very topic for submission. 
Soon after his arrival at UVA he was recognized for his leadership skills and was tapped to be Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Radiology. As noted by Michael Dake MD, chair of Radiology, Walt was known as  “a generous and considerate individual…. a truly collaborative colleague, who happily applauded the success of fellow faculty with genuine admiration; a man whose easy enthusiasm for a variety of subjects and positive attitude provided unflinching support for co-workers that helped drive their projects to success”. 

Walt was a terrific husband and father. A lover of the outdoors and of college sports, Walt took to Charlottesville very quickly. He found himself rooting hard for UVA when they played Johns Hopkins in his favorite spectator sport, lacrosse. He and his son Andrew would make an annual trek to the NCAA lacrosse championships, regardless of the schools involved. An avid biker, he also enjoyed tennis and sailing and as a native of Erie, PA, he was a huge Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers fan throughout good times and bad. He enjoyed turning golf into exercise and one of the last of many memorable golf outings was spent spraying balls all over the Blue Monster at the SCMR Doral Golf Classic after the 2006 SCMR Annual Meeting in Miami. Walt was a marvelous colleague and an even better friend and he is sorely missed throughout the CMR community.

Vitalii V. Itskovich (1972 - 2006)

Vitalii Itskovich died on January 14th 2006 at the age of 33. Vitalii was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up in the region that later became the independent state of Moldova. Despite his humble beginnings and significant challenges, including losing his father to cancer at a young age, Vitalii used his prodigious intellect and fierce determination to pursue a career in science and provide for a better life for himself and his mother. After completing his studies in Moldova, and being forced to move to the United States due to political upheaval in Moldova, he was accepted into the biomedical engineering PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Vitalii successfully completed his VCU coursework while simultaneously teaching himself English and working at night in the food service industry.

Vitalii’s graduate work in the area of aortic wave velocity measurements provided the foundation for his noted accomplishments in the field of MR pulse sequence development. He was instrumental in the development and optimization of several MR sequences essential for atherosclerotic plaque imaging, including multi-slice dark blood fast imaging techniques, development of novel methods to suppress blood flow for better vessel wall delineation, and the imaging of iron oxide particles with positive contrast. His expertise in the field of MR image analysis led to the development of algorithms based on cluster analysis for automating plaque segmentation. His contributions extended to diverse areas of research such as the characterization of aortic root atherosclerosis, detection of lesion regression and in disease progression in Marfan’s syndrome. His work in this field resulted in 3 US patents.

In September of 2003, Vitalii was diagnosed with a rare and particularly virulent form of gastric cancer. Vitalii vigorously researched his cancer and became very involved with his treatment plans, and outliving all expectations before succumbing at age 33 on a cold yet sunny New York City January day. He remains in our memories and we think fondly of him often. 

Frank Wiesmann (1966 - 2005)

The SCMR community and all his dear friends and colleagues mourn the death of Frank Wiesmann, MD, who died in 2005 at the age of 39 after a long battle with cancer.

Frank was a unique individual, a great scientist, dedicated clinician, and loving husband and father. Frank grew up in Franconia, near Wurzburg, Germany, where he also went to medical school. Working with MR Physicist Axel Haase as well as clinical academics Stefan Neubauer and Georg Ertl, he discovered his love for cardiac MR. Frank was the first to apply CMR to the study of transgenic mice. His early papers on this technique were seminal to establishing this field. Frank also spent a year with Dudley Pennell at the Royal Brompton Hospital to work on coronary MRI, and with Stefan Neubauer, now in Oxford, to work on atherosclerosis imaging. His publications are landmark papers in the field and have influenced many of us. Frank was the SCMR young investigator award winner in 2004 in recognition of his research achievements. Following his death, SCMR Young Investigator award sessions were held in his honor for several years.

Frank was a great friend to those who knew him, and his cheeky sense of humour was unique. Above all, however, Frank was a wonderful family man, deeply devoted to his wife and three children. Frank had so much more to give, and he left us far too early. Those of us who were lucky enough to meet him can take comfort in the fact that we knew such a wonderful colleague and scientist.

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