The Biomedical Physicist

Alain Oregioni looks deep into the structure of molecules. 


I am part of team that looks after scientific instruments that investigate molecules found, or to be used as drugs, in the human body. The machines are called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers, and make use of the magnetic properties of molecules to study their structures and interactions.


Most of my time is spent maintaining or improving the instruments and helping other researchers use them. These are my ‘clients’ – for whom I might be seen as the ‘pilot’ or the ‘mechanic’ of the ‘plane’ that they are on board.

Looking deep into the structure of molecules.

A fifth of my time is taken up by research – I am trying to gauge if the information from the machines is precise and whether it can be improved.


It is important to collect accurate information about nature. If information is wrong, scientists will develop flawed ideas based on the data acquired by the instrument. I hope that improving the instrument will lead to better theories. In some cases, a brand new theory may emerge from the improved data.

On a bad day, there is failure after failure on the machines. A nightmare scenario, which happens only very rarely, is an instrument failure that invalidates all the data of a project that started long ago.


On a good day, everything will run perfectly and according to the plan. And, if the results are unexpected – that’s amazing.

Alain Oregioni, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London

To contact Alain, or any of the other scientists featured here, please email

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