Allan McLeod Cormack (February 1924 - May 7, 1998) was a South Africa-born American physicist who shared a part of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
Cormack was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received his Bachelor of Sciences degree in physics in 1944 from the University of Cape Town and his master's degree in crystallography in 1945 from the same institution. He worked at Cambridge University, then returned to the University of Cape Town to lecture. While at Cambridge, he met his future wife, Barbara Seavey, an American physics student.
After marrying Seavey, the couple agreed to move to the United States. Following a sabbatical at Harvard, Cormack became a professor at Tufts University in 1958. Cormack became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966. Although he was mainly working on particle physics, Cormack's side interest in x-ray technology led him to develop the theoretical underpinnings of CAT scanning. His results were published in two papers in the Journal of Applied Physics in 1963 and 1964. These papers generated little interest until Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield and colleagues built the first CAT scan machine in 1972, taking Cormack's theoretical calculation into a real application. For their independent efforts, Cormack and Hounsfield shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Cormack died of cancer in Massachuetts at age 74.
Nobel Prize Biography