GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) is honored to announce that Dr. E. Trifon Laskaris, chief engineer and pioneer in imaging technologies, has been awarded his 200th U.S. patent—a milestone previously reached by only one GE research lab employee, Thomas Edison.
“This is an amazing, but not at all unexpected accomplishment,” said Mark Little, GE senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Trifon’s work speaks for itself. Without his decades of dedicated research into superconducting magnets, MRI technology would not be where it is today—a mainstay of hospitals around the world. I congratulate Trifon on this milestone not only in his career, but for GE as a whole.”
Laskaris began his career with GE in 1967 after earning his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He joined GE Global Research in 1973 to conduct research into superconducting generator technology. Then, beginning in 1982, and for the next 20 years, Laskaris would do some of his most groundbreaking work directing research activities that resulted in prototypes for the superconducting magnets at the heart of GE’s world-class MRI systems. His team’s prototype designs and technologies are the basis for the hundreds of 1.5T Signa magnets produced annually at GE’s magnet factory in Florence, S.C.
From there, Laskaris turned to the development of a succession of increasingly sophisticated, higher and higher field magnets for open MRI systems. These addressed the issue of claustrophobia and, more importantly, permitted surgeons to have access to patients while they are being scanned, in order to provide image guided interventional procedures. His research led to production of the Signa Open Speed MRI—the highest-field open MRI system on the market today.
Currently, Laskaris is leading the technology development of next generation MRI magnets. These magnets will revolutionize access to MRI while significantly reducing cost of ownership. The end result will be greater access to cost-efficient, quality healthcare for more people living in underserved areas.
Laskaris has been involved in virtually every critical milestone in MRI technology at GE, either personally developing or directing the development of the magnets that are so crucial to these imaging devices. From GE’s first MRI system to a series of increasingly sophisticated ones, both open and closed, the higher field strengths Laskaris’s magnets enable are the key to improved image quality and, therefore, better diagnosis.
Laskaris has also made pioneering contributions in the development of superconducting rotating machines for power generation. They include a 20-MVA utility-type generator—the first to produce full power—and a 20-MW high-power-density generator for the U.S. Air Force. His ongoing research is expected to enable power generation systems that are more compact and more efficient to operate.
“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,” said Laskaris. “This is a goal that I really never set out to reach and I certainly couldn’t have done it without the support and efforts of so many of my colleagues. It’s gratifying to know that, collectively, our years of research have taken medical imaging to new heights.”
Aside from earning 200 patents, Laskaris has also received several other awards and accolades over the course of his career. In 2004, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the most prestigious honors bestowed upon an engineer. He’s also the recipient of three awards from GE Global Research: a Whitney Technical Achievement Award in 1994, presented to a team that has developed exceptional technology that’s not yet commercialized, but is viewed as a potential market game-changer, for Signa SP MRI Magnet; a Coolidge Fellowship Award in 1998, the highest research achievement granted to an individual within GE Global Research; and a Dushman Award in 2002, granted to a team that has developed exceptional technology that has been commercialized, for Signa Open Speed MRI.
Laskaris has authored more than 60 refereed journals, conference proceedings and other publications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Greek Chamber of Engineers.
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