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.

Senior 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. Subsequently, she undertook doctoral research in mitochondrial signalling at the University of Oulu, Finland, graduating with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. Through TEKES-funded postdoctoral research at Oulu, she developed skills in live-cell imaging in 3D tissue culture conditions with high throughput imaging informatics and machine learning. Subsequently, she relocated to the University of Helsinki to work on the biochemistry of mitochondrial membrane dynamics and mitochondrial translation with Dr. Brendan Battersby. Fumi actively co-organises the Viikki Biocampus Women's Life Science Network at the University of Helsinki. Fumi is a Senior Post-doctoral Scientist in the McWilliams lab, and provides input to several projects but has a major interest in mitochondrial neuroscience, in addition to overseeing more organisational aspects of the laboratory. 

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.

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.