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  • Dr. Brent Johnston, PhD


Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology Professor, Department of Paediatrics Cross-appointed to Department of Pathology


Dalhousie University

Research Interests:

Mechanisms of immune activation and cell recruitment; adhesion molecules, chemokines, and cytokines; NKT cells  in inflammation and cancer; immunotherapy; oncolytic viruses

Stimulating natural immunity against cancer

Natural Killer T (NKT) cells are a population of immune cells that help to control cancers. Dr. Johnston is studying how NKT cells can be manipulated to stimulate the immune system to recognize and target tumor cells better. Current research is examining how NKT cells can be stimulated more effectively, how they can be directed into tumor sites, and how NKT cell based therapies can be combined with other cancer therapies, including chemotherapeutics and oncolytic viruses.

Involvement with BHCRI to date:

Dr. Johnston is a BHCRI Senior Scientist, has been a BHCRI Seminar Series presenter, a former member of the BHCRI Training Committee and a supervisor for CRTP trainees.


(902) 494-5131



Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, 15E, Dalhousie University, Faculty of Medicine, 5850 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2


Corkery DP, Clarke L, Gebremeskel S, Salsman J, Pinder J, Le Page C, Meunier L, Xu Z, Mes-Masson A-M, Berman JN, Johnston B*, Dellaire G*. 2016. Loss of PRP4K drives anoikis resistance via dysregulation of growth factor receptor endosomal trafficking. Oncogene. Accepted – Aug 04, 2017. [* corresponding authors] 

Le Boeuf F*, Gebremeskel S*, McMullen N, Greenshields A, Bell J, Johnston B, Pan C, Duncan R. 2017. Oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus expressing a reovirus FAST protein enhances tumour cell killing and prolongs survival in primary and metastatic tumour models. Molecular Therapy Oncolytics. Accepted - Aug 01, 2017. [* co-first authors] 

Vienotte L, Gebremeskel S, Johnston B. 2016. CXCL16-positive dendritic cells enhance invariant natural killer T cell-dependent IFN-γ production and tumor control. Oncoimmunology 5:e1160979. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2016.1160979 

Gebremeskel S, Slauenwhite D, Johnston B. 2016. Reconstitution models to evaluate natural killer T cell function in tumor control. Immunol. Cell Biol. 94:90-100. doi: 10.1038/icb.2015.67 

Gebremeskel S, Johnston B. 2015. Concepts and mechanisms underlying chemotherapy induced immunogenic cell death: Impact on clinical studies and considerations for combined therapies. Oncotarget 6: 41600-41619. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6113 

Gebremeskel S, Clattenburg DR, Slauenwhite D, Lobert L, Johnston B. 2015. Natural killer T cell activation overcomes immunosuppression to enhance clearance of postsurgical breast cancer metastasis in mice. Oncoimmunology 4:e995562. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2014.995562 [One of the top downloaded articles in Oncoimmunology] 

Gebremeskel S, Liwski RS, Johnston B*, Bezuhly M*. 2015. Role of the reversible P2Y12 inhibitor ticagrelor in inhibition of tumor metastasis. Int. J. Cancer 136: 234-240. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28947. [*co- senior authors]

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