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Thomas Surrey

Thomas Surrey

Centre de Regulació Genòmica

Life & Medical Sciences

Thomas Surrey obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Tübingen in 1995. After postdoctoral training at Princeton University and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, he became group leader at EMBL. In 2011, Thomas moved to the CRUK London Research Institute (LRI) to take the position of a senior group leader and later transferred to the newly established Francis Crick Institute in London. In 2019, Thomas relocated to the Centre of Genomic Regulation (CRG), a part of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, to take the position as a CRG senior group leader and ICREA research professor. Thomas is author of 86 research publications, elected EMBO member (2012), recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant (2013) and of the Hooke medal of the British Society of Cell Biology (2015). He was a Whitman Center Fellow at the Marine Biology Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole in 2016 and a Visiting Miller Professor at UC Berkeley in 2018.

Research interests

Living cells are internally highly organized, yet also very dynamic. How is dynamic order generated? The cytoskeleton plays a critical role in this process by forming an active filament network that provides a mechanically stable coordinate system for the internal organization of cells. The Surrey lab studies the properties of the microtubule cytoskeleton with a particular interest in its ability to organize itself into different networks in different cell types or at different times of a cell’s life cycle. The Surrey lab has pioneered several biochemical in vitro reconstitution approaches in which minimal cytoskeletal subsystems can be generated from purified components. Observing the behaviour of these reconstituted systems by advanced fluorescence microscopy provides insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying cytoskeleton dynamics and function. Our goal is to uncover the design principles governing active biological network organization which is essential for cell function.

Selected publications

– Asthana J, Cade NI, Normanno D, Lim WM & Surrey T 2021, ‘Gradual compaction of the central spindle decreases its dynamicity in PRC1 and EB1 gene-edited cells‘. Life Sci Alliance 4, e202101222.

Selected research activities


Elected “ASCB Fellow” of the Amercian Society of Cell Biology.

Invited conference and workshop presentations

  • Surrey T. Lessons learnt from microtubules that cannot hydrolyze GTP. “Jornada de Biologia Cel·lular i Molecular SCB”, Barcelona, 26 Nov.
  • Surrey T. In vitro reconstitutions. Round table discussion leader. Dynein 2021 Conference, 9 Sept.
  • Surrey T. Microtubule nucleation properties of single human gTuRCs investigated by TIRF and cryo-electron microscopy. Chair & Speaker. Biophysical Society Meeting 2021, USA, 24 Feb.

Invited international seminars:

  • Surrey T. The microtubule GTP cap studied in vitro. IGDR Rennes, France, 19 Nov.
  • Surrey T. Mechanisms of microtubule nucleation and organization studied by in vitro reconstitutions. MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany, 3 June.
  • Surrey T. Mechanisms of microtubule nucleation and organization studied by in vitro reconstitutions. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA, 8 March.

Habilitation and PhD thesis examiner:

  • Matthieu Gélin (PhD), Université Grenoble Alpes, France, 17 Dec.
  • Fabian Zimmermann (PhD), Universitat de Barcelona, 24 Nov.
  • Hélène Bouvrais (Habilitation), Université de Rennes, France, 20 Oct.
  • Alejandra Laguillo Diego (PhD), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 12 Mar.
  • Jijumon A.S. (PhD), Université de Paris Saclay, France, 16 Feb.
  • Paraskevi Karamtzioti (PhD), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 1 Feb.

Editorial Activities

  • Reviewing Editor at Elife.
  • Reviewing Editor at MBoC.
  • Advisory Editorial Board Member for Current Biology, EMBO Journal, Cytoskeleton.

Other Activities

  • EMBO Fellowship Interview, 8 Nov.
  • International Thesis Advisory Committees (EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland; Paul Scherrer Institute Viligen, Switzerland; MPI of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, Germany)

ICREA Memoir 2021