The study of hard tissues from vertebrates (e.g. bone and teeth) and from other animals (e.g. shells and exoskeletons of crustaceans) is largely based on physical science characterization techniques. Among these techniques, Electron Microscopy (SEM and TEM), diffraction techniques (x-ray and electron) and, more recently, Focused Ion Beam (FIB) have been offering answers to fundamental questions about the nature, origin, and function of these biological materials.

            Physical-chemistry research has effectively contributed to expanding our understanding of several biological systems and produced a decisive impact on medical research by repeatedly revealing how different diseases originate and develop. 

The synergy between physical science and medicine has, in this way, helped design and implement novel preventative therapies and treatments. Beyond that, physical science techniques have also been an endless source of inspiration for new materials and technologies based on the unique materials found in nature.   


Sergio Bertazzo



Left to right: Sergio Bertazzo, Laurent Mekul, Elena Tsolaki, Shweta Agarwal, Maryam Alamer

Sergio Bertazzo

Dr Bertazzo joined the UCL Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering after an Imperial College Research Fellowship at Imperial College London, a postdoctoral stay in Germany and another in Brazil. He has been working for a long time now with different electron microscopes and developed several new methods to prepare and image cells and, more particularly, calcified tissues. His research has so far been able to physicochemically describe how hydroxyapatite (i.e. the calcium phosphate that forms bone and teeth) behaves in biological fluids; determine the nature of the mineral present in cardiovascular calcification (e.g. in atherosclerosis, aortic valve stenosis and rheumatic fever); correlate different kinds of microscopy; and, finally, identify the possibility of preservation of organic materials in fossils that were not exceptionally preserved.

Elena Tsolaki

Ph.D. student working on pathological calcification.

Maryam Alamer

Ph.D. student working on osteoporosis.

Shweta Agarwal

Honorary Research Associate working on pathological calcification.

Laurent Mekul

Visiting artist working in everything.


  • Prof. Sir Magdi Yacoub - Imperial College London - UK

  • Prof. Susan Evans - University College London - UK

  • Prof. Elena Aikawa - Harvard Medical School - USA

  • Dr. Adrian H. Chester - Imperial College London - UK

  • Dr. Inge Herrmann Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science (EMPA)Switzerland

  • Dr. Mehran Moazen - University College London - UK

  • Dr. Najma Latif - Imperial College London - UK

  • Dr. Luca Magnani - Imperial College London - UK

  • Dr. Emadaldin Moeendarbary - University College London - UK