Dr. Thomas Christie Williams

Senior Clinical Research Fellow


I have a long-standing interest in the intersection between evolution and human disease, going back to my undergraduate degree, where I submitted a prize-winning dissertation focused on hominid evolution. I consolidated this training with a combined wet- and dry-lab PhD fellowship in the field of mutagenesis with the Taylor and Jackson Labs, University of Edinburgh. Examining mutational profiles during DNA replication in yeast and human cells led to a joint first-author paper in Nature. My PhD experience leveraging nanopore sequencing to detect ribonucleotides allowed me to set up a SARS-CoV-2 sequencing service within a week of the first Covid-19 case in Scotland (joint first-author paper in Nature Microbiology). I have published 40+ papers in peer-reviewed journals, and since 2018 my research has focused mainly on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), with £147k raised in grant income, 11 publications in the field of RSV epidemiology and genomics, and consultancy work for the World Health Organisation and the UK Health Security Agency.

I hold a BA (1st class) in Archaeology and Anthropology from St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, and a Medical Degree (MB BChir, with Distinction) from Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.

Research summary

I am interested in the implications of viral genomic variability for the success of immunisation programs for respiratory pathogens such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). I am principal investigator for the BronchStart project (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38041864/), which has collected data on over 20,000 attendances for infants and children with severe respiratory disease, and contributed to decision making for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on the roll-out out of interventions for RSV. 

Current research interests

• RSV epidemiology and burden of disease • RSV genomics • Severe disease caused by group A streptococcus

Past research interests

• DNA replication and repair • SARS-CoV-2 sequencing

Knowledge exchange

I am a consultant on RSV sequencing and genomics for the World Health Organisation and the UK Health Security Agency.

In the press

During the COVID-19 pandemic I was an invited expert on SARS-CoV-2 for programmes for BBC Scotland, STV, BBC Radio Scotland, and interviews for The Times, The Herald and The Scotsman newspapers.