and his Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machine

(from pp. 169-170 of the novel)

     The MRI was in a separate building. My lab jacket got me past the front desk without challenge. I found Dr. Yung in a control room. Through its large window, I looked down the mouth of the cavernous machine that swallows patients whole. Dr. Yung was looking at an image displayed on a monitor and was giving a technician instructions on fine adjustments.
     He didn't notice me at first. In fact I wasn't sure exactly when he first noticed me. He just started talking to me slowly without looking away from the monitor.

from Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Facility
Univ. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

How MRI Works

     "You see, Dr. Candidi, we are looking at a patient who has just suffered a stroke. Thrombotic stroke. In some places the vessels are blocked and the blood flow is stopped. In others, it was stopped but has been restarted."
     The brain image looked like a cross section of pomegranate. Dr. Yung moved a pencil over it as he talked.
     "What we see here is mostly the difference between cell membrane and water — the magnetic T2, they call it. It tells us something about where blood is moving and where it is blocked. But the image is too fuzzy. This area is disrupted. It will probably die. The area next to it is at risk. It is getting some collateral circulation but it is hard to tell how much . . . What we really need is a physiologically acceptable agent that will sharpen these images . . . that will tell us where the nutrients are moving . . . so we will really know what is happening to the metabolism inside these nerve cells."
     He sighed and fell silent for a few seconds.
     "We need to know where cells are dying, right now, so we can adjust the therapy. The statisticians would say that's just a ‘surrogate measure,' but I see it as the death of a healthy cell. Cell death, that is always the question, whether you are studying stroke or general loss of brain function with ageing."
     Dr. Yung said nothing more for a full minute. The semi-darkness of the room and the gravity of his words, delivered in a low voice, had an almost hypnotic effect. He had just defined the objective of a grant proposal that we could make together. The physician had asked the bench scientist for help. What could the bench scientist deliver?