Tommy Nilsson Ph.D.

Tommy Nilsson


1995-2003 Group Leader: EMBL-Cell Biology and Biophysics Program. Heidelberg, Germany
2003-2010 Professor. Faculty of Medicine. Department of Medical Genetics, Gothenburg University, Sweden
2007-present Adjunct Professor. Faculty of Medicine. Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Qc, Canada.
2009-present Professor: Faculty of Medicine. Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. McGill University, Montreal, Qc, Canada
2009-present Director of the Proteomics and Systems Medicine Program. The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). Montreal, Qc, Canada
2010-present Director of Proteomics at the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre ( )

Honors and Awards

1990-1992 EMBO Long-term fellow. Distinction
1992-1995 ICRF Long-term fellow. Distinction. Cancer Research UK
2004 Fernstrom prize in Medical Research. Fernstrom Switzerland
2009-2016 Canada Research Chair Tier 1 Research Award
2008-2012 Simone &Morris Fast Award for Oncology. Research award. RI-MUHC / The MGH Foundation / The RVH Foundation

Research Interests

My main contributions:

  1. Discovered the KKXX ER sorting motif (Nilsson, Jackson, Peterson, et al.).
  2. Discovered the role of transmembrane domains as a Golgi sorting domain (Nilsson, Warren et al.).
  3. Discovered enzyme gradients over the Golgi stack (Nilsson, Rabouille, Warren et al.).
  4. Discovered a COP-independent recycling pathway regulated by rab6 and utilized by most enterotoxins to enter the ER and, the cytosol (Nilsson, Pepperkok et al.).
  5. Showed that COPI vesicles predominantly transport Golgi-resident proteins such as glycosylation enzymes in a retrograde fashion (Nilsson et al.).
  6. Showed that COPI vesicles concentrate resident proteins in an ARF- and ARFGAP-dependent fashion linking GTP hydrolysis to cargo sorting (Nilsson et al.). Extended these finding through quantitative proteomics and bioinformatics (Nilsson, Bergeron et al).
  7. Used mathematical modeling and simulation to explain how GTP hydrolysis can mediate protein sorting (Nilsson et al.).
  8. Showed that the formation of COPI vesicle buds require the synthesis of diacylglycerol for budding (Nilsson et al.).
  9. Applied single molecule cellular imaging, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), to study spatio-temporal dynamics of proteins of the secretory pathway and the cytosol. Showed that Golgi-resident proteins as well as larger molecules of the cytoplasm exhibit anomalous diffusion (sub-diffusion) (Nilsson et al.). This impacts formation of protein-protein networks needed for biological processes including protein sorting, glycosylation and signaling as biological interactions can take place even when affinities between involved components are low (e.g. mM or weaker).
  10. Launched the Advance Light Microscopy Facility at EMBL (Nilsson, Steltzer, Boulin, Gonzalez et al).
  11. Launched the European Light Microscopy Initiative (Nilsson, Pepperkok et al.).
  12. Launched the Centre for Cellular Imaging at Gothenburg University (Nilsson et al.).
  13. Re-launched the Centre for Proteomics at Gothenburg University (Nilsson et al.).
  14. Launched Clinical Proteomics and its two proteomics platforms at McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

Lab Composition

Tommy Nilsson
Fariba Kalantari Post Doctoral Fellow
Joan Gannon Post Doctoral Fellow
Jing Liu Operations/Business/Administration
EunJoo (Julie) Lee Graduate Student
Louise Mazza Research Technician
Keiwei Ma Post Doctoral Fellow
Kurt Dejgaard Proteomics core facility manager
Julia Fernandez-Rodriguez Visiting imaging specialist
Yongqian Zhang Post Doctoral Fellow
Amy Wong Research Assistant
Sophie Charbonneau Research Assistant
Alexander Mazur Bioinformatician
Claudio Pedraza Research associate
Hussam Alamri Graduate Student