Dr Thomas Surrey is an internationally well-recognized leader in cytoskeleton research. His research bridges the molecular and cellular scale. He stands out by taking the perspective of a systems biochemist. He pioneered the development of numerous microscopy-based in vitro reconstitutions to uncover molecular mechanisms underlying microtubule cytoskeleton function. He is probably best known for rebuilding dynamic cellular subsystems from purified components and studying their dynamic behaviour quantitatively.
His laboratory made several important discoveries: he pioneered the reconstitution of microtubule plus end tracking that lead to a mechanistic understanding of this ubiquitous protein targeting phenomenon (Nature 2007, Cell 2012). This research opened also new ways to study the mechanism underlying the fundamental property of microtubule dynamic instability (eLife 2016, PNAS 2017). Dr Surrey is also well-known for his studies of molecular motors, especially in the context of spindle assembly during cell division and spatial cytoskeleton organization in general (Cell 2010, Science 2011, JBC 2014, Biophys J, 2017, Soft Matter 2018). His laboratory reconstituted for the first time the human dynein complex, the major minus directed motor, which contributed to changing our view of the regulation of this motor (PNAS 2012, NCB 2014, EMBO J 2017). More recently, his research also provided important insight into the mechanism of the regulation of microtubule nucleation during mitosis (NCB 2015, eLife 2017). During the last 5 years, Dr Surrey organized his research such that various research lines now come together with the goal of reconstituting large-scale cytoskeletal architectures such as metaphase and anaphase spindle-like structures.
Overall, the work of Thomas Surrey had a major influence on the cytoskeleton field by setting a new standard of quantitative biochemical cytoskeleton research, generating mechanistic understanding of dynamic cytoskeletal networks.
Key wordsCytoskeleton, intracellular architecture, self-organization, microtubules, motor proteins, in vitro reconstitution, molecular mechanism, dynamic systems, fluorescence microscopy, quantitative imaging