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MSRI & American Mathematical Society Congressional Briefings


MSRI and the American Mathematical Society (AMS) host two Congressional briefings on mathematical topics each year in Washington, D.C. to inform members of Congress and Congressional staff about new developments made possible through federal support of basic science research.

You can learn more about MSRI's first Congressional events that took place as part of the inaugural National Math Festival here.


June 28, 2017: David Donoho, Stanford University

On June 28, 2017, David Donoho, Professor of Statistics at Stanford University, presented "Blackboard to Bedside: How high-dimensional geometry is transforming the MRI industry" at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Among the attendees of the event were Senator Charles Schumer and Leader Nancy Pelosi, both of whom gave remarks. 

Recently the FDA approved a device for dynamic cardiac imaging that gathers data 15 times faster than before and another device that speeds up 3D brain imaging by a factor of 8. The speedup will allow more patients to be served at a lower cost per patient, giving US taxpayers a better return on the tens of billions of dollars in annual MRI charges. Professor Donoho's presentation tells the story of how U.S. investment in basic research in the mathematical sciences led to this breakthrough.

Dr. Donoho is a MacArthur Fellow and National Academy of Sciences member. One of the world’s leading mathematical statisticians, he is currently the Anne T. and Robert Bass Professor of Humanities and Sciences and professor of statistics, Stanford University. His Stanford patents on compressed sensing are licensed by both GE and Siemens in their new generation FDA-approved scanners.

You may view the full-length interview below, or the five-minute highlights, as it traces:

  • How both young children and older patients will benefit from the new technology;
  • How the charismatic proof of mathematics opened the door for corporate investment;
  • How the mathematics of random sampling undergirds diagnostic certainty;
  • The story arc of Federal funding that made a 10-year progression possible, from blackboard to bedside.
This development holds the promise that many patients who today do not receive MRI imaging at all—prior to brain or heart surgery, or whose imaging is delayed, cost-prohibitive, or non-diagnostic in quality, now will have more readily available, diagnostically meaningful scans at lower cost. The savings of lives, the improved surgical preparation and outcomes, and the ability to use MRI imaging technology to inform a wider range of medical conditions in neurosurgery, cardiac, and other applications, is significant for patients of all ages.  


Blackboard to Bedside: How High-Dimensional Geometry is Transforming the MRI Industry from MSRI / National Math Festival on Vimeo.

Additional Materials

Here is a PDF summary by Professor Donoho of many of the points he made in his briefing for those who would like further information. 

Event Photos