Staff Profile

Professor Jim Johnston is the first Chair of Immunology and is the Deputy Director of the centre for Infection and Immunity within the School of Medicine, Queen's University Belfast. He was postdoctoral Fellow and later a Senior Staff Fellow, Lymphocyte Cell Biology Section, Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, NIAMS, NIH Bethesda, from 1991 -1996. While there he made a number of key discoveries including the identification of JAK3 as the kinase responsible for IL-2 signalling in T cells and the overall mechanism responsible for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) in patients with mutations of this gene. These findings were published in Nature and Science. In 1996 he started his own group in DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, California where his research focused on cytokine biology. More recently his research has focused on the cytokine signalling cascades, which rely on intracellular molecules such as Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). These pathways are regulated, in part, by the suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS) protein family. The work of his group and others have suggested that SOCS attenuate cytokine signal transduction by binding to phosphorylated tyrosine residues on signalling intermediates such as receptor chains. This work was published in Nature Cell Biology. He was later part of the collaborative research that lead to this discovery of the role of SOCS3 in atopic disease and was published in Nature Medicine and Nature Immunology.In the past number of years his group have reported that SOCS3 interacts abnormally with JAK2 V617F and shown that this regulates the development of myeloproliferative disease. Moreover, the group has also studied the role of SOCS in Atopic disease.
Jim Johnston is teh recipient of the 2010 Irish Society of Immunology public lecture medal. He was awarded the Hajime award at DNAX 1999 and the Most Valuable Scientist award at the NIH, Bethesda in 1996. He has been a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry Editorial Board from 2003-2009 and has been a member of the MRC Panel of Experts 2004-2010. He has been Chairman of the SFI Grant Panel and HRB Pathology & Immunology Grant Panel in 2004-2008. He has also been an invited speaker at many international meetings.
He was the founder and was Chief Scientist of Fusion Antibodies Ltd, a Biotechnology spinout company from Queen's University. The company develops human Monoclonal Antibody therapeutics for the cancer treatment. Fusion Antibodies Ltd has raised over £6 million in venture funding, employs 25 people and has won a host of awards for its leading-edge technology platform FET (Fusion Expression Technology). Professor Johnston acts as a member of the board of this company. Jim Johnston has published over 100 per reviewed scientific manuscripts in the immunology discipline. This research is supported by sustained funding from a range of organisations such as the The Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, CRUK, Leukaemia Research Fund, EU-FP7 and the Action Cancer.