PhD, Principal Investigator - Faculty of Medicine

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine

Academy of Finland Research Fellow

E-mail: thomas.mcwilliams [at]

Tom has an eclectic research background. He graduated with a 1st Class Honours degree in Biochemistry from the National University of Ireland, Galway (ranked 1st in Class). Subsequently, he undertook doctoral research on the Wellcome Trust Four-Year PhD Programme in Integrative Neuroscience at Cardiff University, UK. He completed his PhD studies in developmental neurobiology under the guidance of Prof. Alun M. Davies FMedSci FRS, co-supervised by Prof. Stephen B. Dunnett FMedSci. Following a short post-doctoral period in the Davies Lab, Tom was recruited by Dario R. Alessi FMedSci FRS to the MRC Protein Phosphorylation & Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Here, he worked with Ian Ganley, PhD and Miratul M. K. Muqit FRCP on selective autophagy and mitochondrial signalling in vivo, with a principal focus on Parkinson's disease. His unexpected discoveries in both mitophagy and degeneration signalling sparked a drive to unravel their mechanistic interplay in mammalian development and disease.

Tom launched his independent laboratory in 2018 at the University of Helsinki. He is a Principal Investigator at the Faculty of Medicine, and a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine. The McWilliams laboratory is adjunct member of FinMIT: an established Centre of Excellence for Finnish metabolism and mitochondrial research. In 2018, he was named Academy of Finland Research Fellow and awarded the prestigious Novo Nordisk Foundation Excellence Project in Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Post-doctoral Scientist (2018-Present)

Dr. Fumi Suomi has a multidisciplinary training background with extensive experience in mitochondrial cell biology. She completed her undergraduate studies in Japan (B.Sc. - Kansai University & M.Sc. - Kyoto University), where she focused on enzymology in fission yeast. Following this, she undertook doctoral research at the University of Oulu, Finland. Here, Dr. Suomi developed an interest in mitochondrial signalling in mammals and graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. Through undertaking TEKES-funded postdoctoral research at Oulu, she diversified her expertise and developed skills in live cell imaging in 3D culture conditions to be applied to high throughput image analysis and machine learning. Subsequently, she relocated to the University of Helsinki to work on mitochondrial membrane dynamics in coordination with mitochondrial translation with Dr. Brendan Battersby. Here she developed extensive experience in mitochondrial biochemistry and cell biology. She actively co-organises the Viikki Biocampus Women's Life Science Network at the University of Helsinki. In 2018, she joined the McWilliams lab to pursue research into mitochondrial quality control in health and disease.



Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-Present)

Dr. Maeve Long is an enthusiastic cell biologist with expertise in organelle dynamics and membrane trafficking. She obtained a 1st Class Honours B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, graduating top of her class from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. Maeve then secured a prestigious IRC Scholarship to pursue PhD studies in Cell Biology in the lab of Prof. Jeremy Simpson carrying out an siRNA screen looking at Rho GTPases in membrane trafficking events. Following a short post-doctoral period with Dr. Niamh O’Sullivan working on developing a cellular disease model of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing at the Conway Institute in UCD, Maeve moved to Helsinki to join the McWilliams Lab. Her project aim is to pursue organelle research in vivo as part of a Novo Nordisk Foundation Excellence Project. Away from the bench Maeve loves spending time in the great outdoors, taking dance classes and most of all discovering new places on her travels.

Laboratory Co-Ordinator (2018-Present)

Kirsi is a seasoned laboratory technician and joins the McWilliams and Suomalainen-Wartiovaara Laboratories as a Laboratory Co-ordinator. Kirsi holds a Bachelors of Laboratory Sciences (Helsinki Metropolitan University of Life Sciences) and has completed courses in Chemistry and Pharmacology (Universities of Eastern Finland & Jyväskylä, respectively). Having spent 8 years as a laboratory analyst within the laboratories of Academy Professor Kari Alitalo and Dr. Riikka Kivelä (University of Helsinki), she is highly experienced with a plethora of molecular, biochemical, cell biology & pathology techniques. Kirsi ensures the smooth running of our lab by performing essential roles and stremlining tasks in addition to contributing to more specialist research projects. Outside of the lab, Kirsi is a keen triathalon competitor, an avid literature enthusiast and enjoys discovering the rich delights of the Finnish landscape.

Undergraduate Intern/Student Technician (2019-Present)

Jesse is currently undertaking his undergraduate studies in laboratory sciences at the Metropolia University of Applied Scienes. He has previously been an intern in the DNA sequencing and genomics laboratory at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki. Jesse joins the McWilliams lab as an intern, and will complete his undergraduate thesis here.

Undergraduate MD research student

Henriikka is an undergraduate research student in the McWilliams lab, making her first venture into the world of biomedical research. When away from the lab bench and not running experiments, Henriikka is undertaking her medical training at the University of Helsinki. 

MSc research student

Rebeka is completing her thesis research project in the McWilliams lab. She is currently enrolled on the MSc in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences program at the Faculty of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki. Prior to her arrival in the TGM lab, Rebeka completed research at the HiLIFE Electron Microscopy Unit in the group of Dr. Eija Jokitalo. Before coming to Finland, Rebeka completed her undergraduate studies in Microbiology at the University of Ljubljana, Republic of Slovenia. 

Postgraduate Research Intern (2019)

Asha completed her MSc in Biochemistry from the School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, India. Prior to this she completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Zoology in Karnataka, India. From 2017, Asha was a project assistant at the National Brain Research Centre. Asha joined the McWilliams lab in 2019 as a postgraduate research intern.

Incoming EDUFI Fellow (2019-Present)

Lidia joins the McWilliams lab as an EDUFI fellow for 12 months, where she will undertake training and research in the molecular regulation of autophagy. Lidia obtained her undergraduate and MSc qualifications in Biology from St. Petersburg State University, Russia, graduating with distinction. Here she was a research assistant at the Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences where she obtained research experience in both cell stress signalling and molecular oncology.