Tom Schirris

Dr Tom Schirris


Tom is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying how drugs interact with and reach the cellular power plants, called mitochondria.

Tom Schirris

Tom completed his doctoral research, supervised by Prof. dr. Russel and Prof. dr. Smeitink, at the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands (cum laude). He performed a postdoctoral research project (2015) and subsequently became an Assistant Professor in the same department (2016).

Currently, he is also working as an EMBO postdoctoral fellow at the MRC - Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge supervised by Dr. Edmund Kunji. He is a European Registered Toxicologist (ERT) and member of the Dutch Society for Toxicology for which he also serves as bookkeeper. He is also a member of the Dutch Pharmacological Society for which he is a member of the organising committee of their annual meeting.

Research Interests

Tom's previous research explored novel mitochondrial off-targets and motivated him to get a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. His research demonstrated that inhibition of mitochondrial complex III associates with statin-induced myopathies, being the most common ADRs of these cholesterol-lowering drugs. Recently, he confirmed this association in a prospective setting and he also explored the contribution of statin biotransformation to the formation of toxic statin lactones.

Additionally, he demonstrated mitochondrial ADP/ATP-exchange inhibition by an anti-obesity drug ibipinabant, associating with its muscle toxicity. Another part of his research focuses on compensatory pathways in mitochondrial disease to intervene with the disease phenotype. The idea that drugs need to enter the mitochondria to reach mitochondrial targets as well as the ibipinabant-induced ADP/ATP-exchange inhibition, triggered his interest in mitochondrial transporters. However, the function of only half of all mitochondrial transporters is known, which limits the evaluation of their role in mitochondrial drug translocation and toxicity. He currently works on novel methods to enable the systematic functional characterisation of these transporters at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit of the University of Cambridge.