Assistant Professor Thomas McWilliams selected as a 2021 FENS-Kavli Scholar

The multidisciplinary, international network aims to improve and strengthen neuroscience in Europe and beyond through scientific exchange, advocacy, and outreach.

Assistant Professor Thomas McWilliams has been selected to join the new 2021 cohort of FENS-Kavli Scholars: a group of outstanding early-career neuroscience investigators based in Europe. The scholars are chosen as part of a competitive process for their scientific excellence and for motivation to improve European neuroscience.

The FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE) was established in 2014, and its alumni include renowned researchers in neuroscience. These 15 new scholars represent 10 countries in Europe and they will join the 2018 cohort, forming a network of 30 Scholars in total. The FKNE is made possible by both FENS and the Kavli Foundation. FENS (the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies) is the pre-eminent body for neuroscience in Europe, representing over 23,000 researchers. The Kavli Foundation is a US-based philanthropic organization which has been a catalyst and champion for breakthrough discovery science.

Neuroscientist focusing on mitochondria, metabolism and recycling

Tom McWilliams moved to the University of Helsinki in 2018, being appointed as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine. His lab is part of the Stem Cells and Metabolism Research Program (STEMM) in the Faculty of Medicine. McWilliams is interested in mitochondrial signalling and organelle crosstalk in tissues, and his research group focuses on mitochondrial quality control by a recycling process known as selective autophagy. Their work has substantial implications for our understanding of tissue development, degeneration and repair – particularly in the nervous system.

McWilliams is also an Academy of Finland Research Fellow and was awarded the prestigious Novo Nordisk Foundation Excellence Project in Endocrinology & Metabolism. Now he is selected to the join the FENS-Kavli Scholar group of exceptional junior and mid-career neuroscientists from across Europe.

"I am excited and humbled to be selected as a FENS-Kavli Scholar. I look forward to engaging with other network Scholars to advance critical issues in neuroscience research,” says McWilliams.

“I'm very grateful to all the brilliant team members I have worked with, as well as the outstanding support from my many colleagues, mentors, and collaborators. Together, they make the University of Helsinki an inspiring and world-class research environment - it's a privilege to be a young investigator here,” he continues.

Dialogue with policy-makers and society

“Especially for those of us working in remote locations with small neuroscience society, FENS-Kavli network provides an incredible scientific network for exchange of ideas, and to get connected with amazing people,“ says Pirta Hotulainen, current Vice Chair of FENS-Kavli network and Chair of the Brain Research Society of Finland.

FENS-Kavli network is not only a scientific network. It aims to improve neuroscience society by facilitating dialogue between scientists, policy-makers, and society.

“Selection of Tom McWilliams ensures that Finnish neuroscience is involved in developing the European neuroscience and how we do science,” Hotulainen states.