BLOC Experts: Interview with Dian Weerakonda

BLOC is a European Project that brings together different academic and industrial partners to improve a new technology that integrates tissue engineering and magnetic resonance spectroscopy using dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP-MR), to monitor diabetes and liver diseases.

Mr. Dian Weerakonda is a physicist with a strong background in the field of NMR. He joined Oxford Instruments in 2017 as a service engineer and spent a lot of time travelling the world to install and commission benchtop NMR products. He made multiple contributions to the development of new products and now he is actively involved in R&D tasks. He is a key piece inside BLOC Project!

1) Can you describe yourself in a couple of lines?

I finished my undergraduate studies in Physics at Imperial College London and started my role as a service engineer at Oxford Instruments – Magnetic Resonance. Initially, my main responsibilities were field service and technical support. Now, a significant part of my role is R&D.

2) What is your role/position within BLOC?

I conduct the experimental research on behalf of OI-MR.

3) Could you tell us a little bit about the concrete work you are involved in inside BLOC project? What are you currently working on/which experiments are you carrying out?

My work currently is focused on achieving the best possible homogeneity for the Lab-on-a-Chip device. This requires evaluation of the NMR coils designed by the industrial partner in terms of magnetic susceptibility and sensitivity. This also requires modification to existing Pulsar shimming algorithms to work with the new coil.

4) What are the expected results? What is the expected impact of the work you are doing? Why is this relevant for the project/for the goal of the project?

As this is a new technology, there are no clear expected results. However, we would like to demonstrate that a stable homogeneity suitable for high resolution NMR can be achieved with the current prototype.

5) What is the expected impact of the work you are doing? Why is this relevant for the project/for the goal of the project?

This work is crucial for the goal of building an NMR spectrometer that is able to integrate the Lab-on-a-Chip device.

6) How do you feel about being a part of this European Project? How is it to work with other partners around Europe?

I feel I have learned a great deal about science and technology by being a part of this project; collaborating with partners from multiple nations has given me exposure to a wide variety of new science. The partners all have the desire to push the current boundaries and innovate – being a part of this process has been very rewarding.


The other members of the BLOC Consortium are:  IBEC, Multiwave Technologies and IDIBAPS.
If you want to know more about the project check the BLOC webpage.