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GE researcher honored in House as MRI pioneer

Until recently, Thomas Edison was the only General Electric research lab inventor to be awarded 200

Until recently, Thomas Edison was the only General Electric research lab inventor to be awarded 200 U.S. patents. Now, E. Trifon Laskaris, a chief engineer at GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, has joined him.

Laskaris, who has spent nearly 40 years working on critical health care technology, is credited with revolutionizing medical imaging, especially magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, honored Laskaris on the House floor for his achievements.

“MRI would not be where it is today, a vital diagnostic tool used in hospitals around the world, [without Laskaris],” Tonko said. “There is no telling how many millions of people are leading healthier lives today because of the technology Dr. Laskaris developed.”

In a biography about Laskaris on the GE website, he is described as a pioneer in imaging technologies and modern medicine. The biography goes into detail about Laskaris’ revolutionary accomplishments, including his 200th U.S. patent.

Laskaris received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. He started working with GE in 1967 to conduct research into superconducting generator technology. In 1973, he began his career at GE Global Research, where he primarily focused on MRI technology, according to the biography. The high-powered magnets Laskaris was instrumental in developing helped transform medical imaging, and he continues to lead the technology development on MRI magnets.

Essentially, Laskaris has been involved in every critical milestone in MRI technology, according to the biography. Laskaris has also authored more than 60 refereed journals, conference proceedings and other publications.

“I feel honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to spend the last 46 years of my life working at GE on research that is truly making a difference in people’s lives,” Laskaris is quoted saying on the GE website.

Over the years, Laskaris has been recognized for his life-changing research and developments. In 2004, he received one of the highest honors an engineer at GE can receive when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, according to the biography. GE Global Research has also given Laskaris several awards throughout the years, including the highest honor an individual within GE Global Research can receive, the Coolidge Fellowship Award.

Nadeem Ishaque, the technology director for diagnostics and biomedical engineering at GE Global Research, who oversees all health-care-related research, is a friend and colleague of Laskaris.

“I have known him for at least 12 years now,” Ishaque said. “I have not seen a single person who has a complete command over all aspects of MRI — he is the first.”

The new technology he continues to develop regarding MRIs is expected to lead to more cost-effective and quality health care.

Despite all of his accomplishments, Ishaque describes Laskaris as a man of great humility.

“I see him walking every day from the center to his house,” he said. “Very simple person.”

Laskaris is both physically and mentally fit, Ishaque explains.

And his work at GE is very far from over. According to Jim Knapp, the media relations specialist at GE Global Research, Laskaris currently has 25 patents still pending.

“He is still very much at work,” Knapp said.

Laskaris was unavailable for an interview Wednesday.

Isaque said Laskaris has an uncanny ability to translate his life experiences into technology. He is given a problem and is able to fix it.

During his speech on the House floor, Tonko highlighted Laskaris’ achievements and congratulated him on his 200th U.S. patent.

“And on behalf of this body and the citizens of the 20th Congressional District of New York,” he said, “I thank him for his lifelong dedication to scientific research in the service of humanity.”

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