Derry born Professor Patrick Johnston, one of the world’s top cancer researchers has today become President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast.
Professor Johnston, who is in his early 50s and a past pupil of St Columb’s College, was formerly Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s and is the 12th Vice-Chancellor in the university’s 168-year history.
Speaking about his new role, Professor Johnston said: “Queen’s is one of the finest universities in the UK and Ireland and I am both honoured and privileged to be leading it. Together we are about to embark upon a journey in which it is my goal for Queen’s to become an international powerhouse in higher education. This will not only create significant benefits for Queen’s but for every single citizen in Northern Ireland.
“This journey will not be easy, but it is one that I am fully committed to, and by working alongside our exceptional staff and students and with the support of our stakeholders, we will achieve our objectives.
“Queen’s is Northern Ireland’s university. It is a university that is open and accessible to everyone. It is a university which contributes to every part of our society: economically, culturally, politically and socially. And it is a university that consistently delivers a world-class education and research experience. Let’s work together for the common good of everyone in our society.”
Professor Johnston, originally from Derry’s Waterside, is married with four grown-up sons. Since 2007, he has led the development of a new international Medical School at Queen’s and a world-leading Institute of Health Sciences. He is also former Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s.
In 2012, he was recognised for excellence in medical science when he was elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences. In the same year, he received a Diamond Jubilee Queen’s Anniversary Prize awarded by Her Majesty The Queen, for the University’s leadership of the Comprehensive Cancer Centre and its achievement in reducing cancer mortality rates in Northern Ireland over the last decade.
Professor Johnston was appointed chair of the Translational Research Group of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in 2012. He received the 2013 international Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize, recognising his pioneering work in translating discovery science for the benefit of cancer patients. He also serves on the Cancer Research UK (CR-UK) Science Executive/Advisory Board.
In addition to his academic work, Professor Johnston is a founder of Almac Diagnostics, with its headquarters based in Northern Ireland and the Society for Translational Oncology which is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina.
Professor Johnston received his MB BCh degree in Medicine with distinction from University College Dublin in 1982. In 1987 he obtained a Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA, where he began further clinical training in Medical Oncology. He was promoted to senior investigator status at NCI in 1991.
In 1996, he was appointed Professor of Oncology at Queen’s, became the Director of its Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, and was Dean of Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences. Here he has led the development of a new international Medical School and a world-leading Institute of Health Sciences.
Over the past 20 years his research has focused on understanding mechanisms of cancer resistance to therapeutic agents. This has resulted in a number of prestigious landmark publications, over 20 patents and more than £95 million in grants being secured from research and philanthropic bodies including: Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council (MRC), Atlantic Philanthropies, the European Union, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the US National Institutes of Health.
In 2012 he was also elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.