Dr Tom Nicholls

Sir Henry Dale Fellow
Rosetrees and Stoneygate Trust Research Fellow


I was awarded a Bsc (Hons) in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Durham University in 2009, then moved to Cambridge to study for a PhD under the supervision of Dr Michal Minczuk at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit. This began my interest in the genetics of mitochondria and the molecular basis of mitochondrial diseases. After completing my PhD I moved to the lab of Prof. Claes Gustafsson at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, where I spent four years studying mitochondrial DNA replication and transcription. In November 2018 I moved to the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research as a Newcastle University Research Fellow (NURF), funded by the Rosetrees and Stoneygate Trust. Soon afterwards I was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, funded by Wellcome and the Royal Society, to study how the mitochondrial genome is replicated and distributed within human cells.

Research Focus

Mitochondrial DNA maintenance, propagation and disease

Human cells contain several thousand copies of the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) which are packaged into nucleoprotein complexes termed nucleoids. These genomes are replicated throughout the cell cycle, and are found evenly distributed around the dynamic mitochondrial network. At the end of mtDNA replication the genomes must be disentangled and resolved, before then being distributed within the cell. Our work uses molecular, biochemical and cell biology techniques to study these processes in human cells. The aims of this work are: (1) to determine how mtDNA is disentangled following DNA replication; (2) to identify and characterise factors that are required for mtDNA resolution and segregation; and (3) to elucidate the molecular basis of human mitochondrial diseases linked to impaired mtDNA resolution and segregation.

Sponsor/Funder: Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, Rosetrees and Stoneygate Trusts