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.

Lab Manager & Research Specialist (2020-Present)

Ruusu is a highly experienced laboratory coordinator with a strong background in mammalian cell biology. She obtained her MSc degree in Cell Biology from the University of Jyväskylä and worked on autophagy in the team of Prof. Eeva-Liisa Eskelinen at the University of Helsinki. Subsequently, Ruusu spent a year at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Upon her return to Finland, Ruusu was appointed as the Senior Laboratory Technician in the High Throughput Biology unit at Finnish Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM). Prior to joining the McWilliams lab, Ruusu was recruited by Professor Olli Kallioniemi, where she was a laboratory coordinator at FIMM for six years in the area of systems medicine and precision therapeutics in cancer. Ruusu has extensive experience in microscopy, completing advanced training courses at the Weizmann Institute, Israel and EMBL Heidelberg.

Research Technician (2019-Present)

Jesse is a research technician in the McWilliams lab, and has obtained major experience in molecular biology, assay development and cell biology. Previously, Jesse was a student intern in the lab and successfully completed his undergraduate thesis project in the McWilliams Lab, as part of his B.Sc. 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.

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.