Professor 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.
- Stephanie May Principal Scientific Officer (April 2020 to current)
- Toshi Susuki Post Doctoral Scientist (Sept 2022 to current)
- Fiona Chalmers Post Doctoral Scientist (May 2023 to current)
- Anastasia Georgakopoulou – Scientific Officer (October 2023 to current)
- Kyi Lai Yin Swe – Scientific Officer (December 2023 to current)
- Bashaer Alqarafi – Intern (September to current)
All based at CRUK Scotland Institute
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.
From the development of these models we wish to understand the biological processes that drive different cancers in individual patients. This we aim to identify and develop new forms of therapies for liver cancer, using precision medicine to target the most effective therapies to individual patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
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.
The following PDF provides a brief visual summary of this group’s current research.
You can view a full catalogue of graphical research summaries for each group in the Centre for Inflammation Research by visiting our Research page.
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
- Lobbying for liver cancer prevention (Herald Scotland website)
- Basic research - Radio 4 Today programme, Aug 2018
- Video: Today Programme
- Radio 4 Today Programme interview with Tom Bird about new treatment to avoid the need for liver transplantation after liver failure following paracetamol overdose.
- Cancer epidemiology - BBC Reporting Scotland 2018 (Youtube website)
- British Liver Trust – Love your Liver Roadshow
- Specialist clinic in liver cancer (HCC)
- Member of the Hepatopancreatobiliary Multidisciplinary Team – Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
- Theme Lead for HCC – CRUK Scotland Centre
- HCC-UK Education and Conference co-lead
- Wellcome Trust DSV03 Advisory Group
- Organiser: HUNTER Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) preclinical models workshop
- Lead CUBIC biomarker working party
- HUNTER HCC Accelerator – preclinical models work package lead
- Member of HCC-UK/NCRAS Steering Group Meeting
- CRUK Scotland Institute Faculty Member
- Owen Sansom - Beatson Institute
- Fiona Oakley - Newcastle University
- Derek Mann - Newcastle University
- Tim Kendall - Edinburgh University
- Stuart Forbes - Edinburgh University
- Ruth King - Edinburgh University
- Steve Wigmore - Edinburgh University
- Neil Henderson, Edinburgh University
- Leo Carlin - Beatson Institute
- Kristina Kirschner - Glasgow University
- Crispin Miller - Beatson Institute
- Luke Boulter - Edinburgh University
- Marcel Utz - Southampton University
- Markus Heim - University of Basel
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