Prof Peter Johnson, director CRUK Southampton Centre

PPeter Johnsoneter Johnson is a medical oncologist specialising in the treatment of lymphoma. His main research interest is in immunotherapy: using the immune system to fight cancer.


New treatments for lymphoma

Director of the Southampton CRUK Centre, Peter has led lymphoma clinical trials from large international studies involving hundreds of patients from around the world, to first-in-man trials of new antibody treatments developed by laboratories in Southampton and elsewhere.

Peter Johnson's involvement in trials of new treatments for lymphoma is strongly focussed on immunotherapy. Current trials include therapies that stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer itself, use antibodies to directly deliver toxins to cancer cells, and drugs that are targeted at particular molecular abnormalities in cancer cells.

Tackling other cancers

The antibody therapy programme is also targeting other types of cancer, aiming to enhance the body’s own immune response by stimulating its growth signals. A number of new antibody treatments are under development in the laboratories in Southampton, led by Professors Martin Glennie and Mark Cragg. These treatments are tested in the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre as they become available.


The Southampton lymphoma unit collaborates closely with a number of other groups in the UK and internationally. A large trial testing the use of gene expression profiles in diagnosis and treatment is being conducted in collaboration with the centre in Leeds, and a programme of research into the epigenetic origins of lymphoma is being done with Queen Mary, University of London.

National roles

Peter Johnson is CRUK's chief clinician, and has been the chair of the National Cancer Research Institute lymphoma studies group. He was responsible for carrying out the evidence review for the commissioning of haematologic malignancy for the Department of Health. 

He is contributing editor on lymphoma to The Hematologist, the newsletter of the American Society of Hematology and he is a member of the organising committees for the International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma, Lugano and the International Symposium on Hodgkin lymphoma, Cologne.


Peter Johnson trained in medical oncology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where his doctoral research was on lymphoma biology, the regulation of programmed cell death in lymphoma and the use of molecular techniques to detect very low levels of lymphoma in the blood. He was a senior lecturer in the Cancer Medicine Research Unit at Leeds and was involved in the first evaluations of the antibody rituximab for the treatment of lymphoma.