The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC)

Description of organisationlogo mcgill

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world‑renowned biomedical and health‑care hospital research centre. Research is organised by eleven research axes (or programs). Located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Institute is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The Institute supports over 600 researchers, over 1000 graduate students, post‑docs and fellows devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ).


Previous experience

Dr. Nilsson has extensive experience in setting up and managing state‑of‑the‑art proteomics facilities. He was the manager of the Centre for Proteomics at the Sahlgrenska Academy from 2006 until he moved to Canada in 2009. Since then he has been the Director of the Proteomics and Systems Medicine Program at the RI‑MUHC, and the Director of Proteomics at the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre. Both program/platforms are part of the Clinical Proteomics (, which primarily focus on elucidating mechanistic differences pertaining to various diseases including fatty liver disease and diabetes. More details can also be found in Dr. Nilsson’s profile.

In addition to expertise in proteomics, as a trained cell biologist, Dr. specialises in cell biology and imaging. During his career Dr. Nilsson has numerous discoveries related to the secretory pathway including the Golgi to ER sorting signal K(X)KXX, a COP independent Golgi to ER recycling pathway, a role for trans membrane domains in protein sorting and the functional characterisation of intra Golgi COPI vesicles through proteomics. These findings have been published in prestigious journals including Cell, Nature Methods, EMBO J., Nature Cell Biol. Dr. Nilsson will bring expertise in disease biology, proteomics, cell biology of organelles and the secretory pathway.


Profile of staff members

Dr. Tommy Nilsson is a Professor and Director of Proteomics at McGill University and at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI‑MUHC). His primary interest is to enable biomarker discovery using mass spectrometry based technologies. This includes creating the right environment for clinical sample retrieval (e.g. resection), handling, characterisation, biobanking. Also tissue and serum pre‑processing including organellar fractionation followed by mass spectrometry‑based analysis and finally, bioinformatics‑based evaluation to identify biomarkers. He also holds an interest in cell biology‑based approaches to gain mechanistic insight into cellular processes and how these contribute to the pathology of disease as well as in how to organise and run high‑end technology platforms.

He joined the RI‑MUHC and the McGill University in 2009 coming from the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Sweden, where for 5 years, he was Professor in Medicine and responsible for both proteomics and imaging. Prior to moving to Sweden, he held a 9 year group leader position at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany which he joined in 1995 after 5 years of post doctoral studies at Cancer Research UK, London UK. His doctoral studies were carried out in Uppsala, Sweden and the Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation in La Jolla, California.

Dr. Nilsson holds a Teir‑1 Canada Research Chair in Proteomics. For additional information, please visit ( and (

Dr. Alexander Mazur is a Research Associate/Bioinformatician. Dr. Mazur obtained his PhD. Degree in Physics and mathematics in 1992. He has over 15 years of extensive experience in software and database development. He has been a research associate/bioinformatician since 2006 at the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Center (MUGQIC). Dr. Mazur is proficient in research and development, software architecture, design and implementation using different programming techniques, and has been working closely with the developers of the MUGQIC’s Nanuq, a pipeline that has been integrated into our data analysis workflow. Dr. Mazur joined Dr. Nilsson’s group in Jan. 2012, and is responsible for developing the ClinProtDB used for data mining, analysis and integration of data generated for proteomics.




Five recent publications relevant to the project

Gilchrist A, Au CE, Hiding J, Bell AW, Fernandez‑Rodriguez J, Lesimple S, Nagaya H, Roy L, Gosline SJ, Hallett M, Paiement J, Kearney RE, Nilsson T, Bergeron JJ. Quantitative proteomics analysis of the secretory pathway. Cell. 2006;127(6):1265‑81.

Bell AW, Deutsch EW, Au CE, Kearney RE, Beavis R, Sechi S, Nilsson T, Bergeron JJ. A HUPO test sample study reveals common problems in mass spectrometry‑based proteomics. Nat Methods. 2009;6(6):423‑30. PMCID: 2785450.

Bell AW, Nilsson T, Kearney RE, Bergeron JJ. The protein microscope: incorporating mass spectrometry into cell biology. Nat Methods. 2007;4(10):783‑4.

Bergeron JJ, Au CE, Desjardins M, McPherson PS, Nilsson T. Cell biology through proteomics‑‑ad astra per alia porci. Trends Cell Biol.2010;20(6):337‑45.

Nilsson T, Mann M, Aebersold R, Yates III JR, Bairoch A, Bergeron JJM. Mass spectrometry in high throughput proteomics: ready for the big time. Nature Methods. 2010;7(9): 681‑685