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Jonathan Ophir, Ph.D

Obituary for Jonathan Ophir, Ph.D

January 12, 1945 - October 19, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 72


Jonathan Ophir, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus of the Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging Department of University of Texas Medical School, Houston, passed away at his home in Austin, Texas on October 19, 2017.

Jonathan was born in Haifa, Israel on January 12, 1945. His father's family had come from Austria in the early 1900's to pioneer a new country. His mother's family came from Serbia in 1933 to escape the growing political climate in Hitler's Europe. While his father's family came to Israel (then British Mandate of Palestine), or to the United States and thrived, most of his mother's family perished in the concentration camps of Europe with the exception of two cousins.

After completing Reali High School in Haifa at age 17, he joined the Israeli Army in 1962 and was transferred to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in 1964. Through the IAF, he came to the United States to Texas' Lackland Air Force Base where he participated in Israel's first battalion to be trained on Hawk air-defense missiles. Upon returning to Israel, he translated the training manuals from English to Hebrew.

Shortly after the army, he enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, Summa cum Laude (1971); he also completed his master's (1973) and doctorate degrees (1977). In 1968, Jonathan married Karen Marcus while they were completing their college educations.

His work on both graduate degrees was in the emerging field of Medical Ultrasound instrumentation. His doctorate work was the first digitization of ultrasound imaging; later known as the Digital Scan Converter (DSC), in integral part of an ultrasound machine. His doctorate work coincided with the birth of his only son, Alexander Gabriel Ophir (1974), whose prenatal ultrasound image appears in one of Jonathan's first papers and in his PhD dissertation. He was a project engineer at Philips Ultrasound in California for his doctorate internship year where he developed the first DSC for a commercial machine.

After 3 years as Assistant Professor at the Kansas University Medical Center, he joined the University of Texas Medical School (1980) as Assistant Professor of Radiology. He stayed at UT Health through 2012 when he retired as Professor and was granted Professor Emeritus. During his time at UT Health, he held several adjunct professorships at various universities around the world where he advised students on joint projects. He was an outstanding teacher and mentor for many graduate and post-graduate students, as well as faculty and residents. Many of his former students are now Professors at other universities or working in high ranking positions in industry.

Jonathan was a pioneer in his work. He invented Elastography, an ultrasound imaging technique that is now a state-of-the-art component of ultrasound equipment throughout the world. He has co-authored over 150 journal articles, and holds 28 US and foreign patents in medical ultrasonics. His work has served as a foundation, and it has been profoundly influential, for the current state of the field. He and his wife, Karen, along with his colleague, Kevin Parker, Ph.D., founded, organized and maintained the highly respected International Tissue Elasticity Conference for over 12 years. His colleague, Jeff Bamber, Ph. D. of The Institute of Cancer Research: Royal Cancer Hospital, UK, continues to run the Conference annually.

His work received international acclaim and resulted in major awards, including the Joseph Holmes Basic Science Pioneer Award (2001) from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the IEEE UFFC Society's Rayleigh Award (2015).

Jonathan's father's family has a great musical history, and Jonathan took his interest in classical guitar from when he was 14. He continued to play even this year. He learned to love gardening as well as engineering from his mother's father. He continued his interest in gardening throughout his life. His most recent pleasure was the completion of his cactus room.

Jonathan is survived by his loving family: his wife, Karen, his son and daughter-in-law, Alex and Angela, and his three grandsons, Marcus, Evan and Cohen.

A Memorial Service will be held 11 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 5 at Weed-Corley-Fish Lake Travis, 411 Ranch Rd. 620 S., Lakeway, TX 78734.

In lieu of flowers, please give a memorial donation to a charity of your choice. Thank you.

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  • In lieu of flowers, please give a memorial donation to a charity of your choice. Thank you.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home Lake Travis

411 Ranch Rd. 620 S.
Lakeway, TX 78734
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