Centre for Inflammation Research

Dr Tom Bird

Tom Bird’s group studies abnormal liver regeneration particularly in liver cancer: hepatocellular carcinoma. We specialise in complex genetically engineered preclinical models developed around human drivers of this cancer.

Dr Tom Bird

WT Intermediate Clinical Fellow / Honorary Consultant Hepatologist and Reader / Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Glasgow

  • Centre for Inflammation Research

Contact details

Group Members

  • Ee Hong Tan - Senior Scientific Officer (April 2020 to current)
  • Anastasia Georgakopoulou - PhD student (October 2019 to current)
  • Tom Drake – Clinical Fellow (October 2018 to current)
  • Stephanie May – Postdoctoral Scientist (July 2018 to current)
  • Miryam Müller – Postdoctoral Scientist (March 2017 to current)
  • Christos Kiourtis – PhD student (September 2017 to current)

All based at CRUK Beatson Institute

Background

Liver cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide and its incidence is increasing rapidly in the UK, and particularly Scotland. Despite some improvements in outcomes for those patients in whom the disease is detected early, there remains a limited range of only minimally effective treatment options for the overwhelming majority of patients who have their disease detected at a later stage. Precision medicine offers the potential to target more effective therapies to individuals with different forms of this disease, across this highly heterogeneous cancer.

Research Overview

My group has been interested in studying the regenerative responses to injury and aberrant proliferative responses in cancer of hepatocytes, the principle functional cell of the liver. These cells show immense regenerative capacity but are also the principle source of the most common primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

We have described how these cells enter a state of shock, named senescence, in response to injury, and how preventing them from doing so can promote liver regeneration. We are also investigating how this same senescent state occurs during early cancer formation as an anti-cancer therapeutic target.

To further understand these processes, we have developed a state-of-the-art suite of genetically engineered models of HCC, which mimic many key features of the human condition. This suite is based upon the range of genetic mutations which drive HCC across the spectrum of human disease. Working with academic and industrial collaborators, we are using these avatar-like models to uncover and test novel therapies, which could be used to target precision medicine dependent on the underlying characteristics of tumours in different patients.

Biographical Profile

Tom Bird undertook medical training in Oxford, during which time he was research active in immunology and infectious diseases. Having chosen his clinical specialty, he then completed a Wellcome Trust funded PhD at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, Edinburgh studying liver regeneration. During completion of specialist training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, he was awarded a Lecturer post at University of Edinburgh and was subsequently awarded a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship, during which he has established an independent research group at the CRUK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. He has subsequently been awarded Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer status in Glasgow and, following award of a Rising Star award by the United European Gastroenterology Society, was promoted to a Readership post in 2020 by Edinburgh University. He now uses cutting-edge, genetically engineered, preclinical models to study basic biology in liver cancer to improve therapy and outcomes for patients.

Honours and Awards

  • 2019:  UEG Rising Star award – annual award by United European Gastroenterology
  • 2019:  Francis Avery Jones Medal Winner – annual award by British Society of Gastroenterology
  • 2015:  Academy of Medical Sciences Oral Plenary presentation award
  • 2015:  Andy Burroughs Young Investigator Award: Hepatologist research
  • 2015:  BSG Young Gastroenterologist of the Year - Clinical & Translational Science          
  • 2014:  Wilfred Card Lectureship: Annual prize for clinical research
  • 2011:  BASL Sheila Sherlock Prize:  Hepatology research annual prize
  • 2011:  ESOT-best scientific presentation: Awarded at Liver Transplant Programme Course
  • 2009:  Anne Ferguson Prize: Best oral presentation Scottish Society of Gastroenterology
  • 2007:  Miss Urquhart Charitable Trust Award: Award for clinical research                            
  • 2006:  British Society of Gastroenterology Traveling Fellowship
  • 2001:  Griffith's Memorial Travelling Scholarship: Annual award for studies abroad.
  • 2001:  A representative for the Queen's Award for Higher Education and Training: awarded by Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace
  • 2001:  Martin Lawrence Memorial Scholarship: Award for clinical medical training abroad.
  • 2000:  Paul Hayes Memorial Scholarship:  Academic and Sporting Achievement, Oxford
  • 2000:   Hobson Mann Scholarship: Oxford University Clinical Medical School Scholarship
  • 2000:   Gotch Memorial Prize: Award by Oxford University for Scientific Research
  • 1999:   Wronker Dissertation Prize: Annual award for Best Dissertation in Physiology Finals (Ox)
  • 1998:   Undergraduate Scholar of Keble College Oxford

Public Engagement Activites

  • Highlights
  • Radio 4 Today programme, Aug 2018
  • BBC Reporting Scotland 2018
  • British Liver Trust – Love your Liver Roadshow

Other responsibilities

  • Specailist clinic in HCC
  • Member of the Hepatopancreatobiliary Multidisciplinary Team – Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
  • Organiser: HUNTER Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) preclinical models workshop
  • Lead CUBIC biomarker working party
  • Member of Hepatobiliary MDT with associated specialist HCC cancer clinic (RIE)
  • HUNTER HCC Accelerator – preclinical models work package lead
  • Member of HCC-UK/NCRAS Steering Group Meeting
  • CRUK Beatson Institute Faculty Member

Collaborators

Sources of Funding

  • CRUK Clinical Research Committee: CUBIC Phase 1b/2 Clinical trial in HCC
  • Tenovus Scotland Research Grant (co-applicant)                                                                 
  •  Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship extension                   
  • RCSEd – Small research pump priming grant (co-applicant)                                            
  • CRUK Accelerator (joint work package lead)                
  • Medical Research Scotland – Vacation Scholarship            `                                             
  •  Liver Transplant Endowment Fund                                                                                          
  • Chief Scientist's Office for Scotland Catalyst Grant                                                             
  • Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship

More information on funding at Tom Bird's Research Explorer profile.