Dr. Nathalie Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Medicine, Hematology and Oncology at McGill University, and has been based at the Jewish General Hospital since July 2010. Dr. Johnson completed her medical studies at the University of Ottawa, and internal medicine and hematology-oncology training at McGill University. She subsequently completed a clinical fellowship in molecular pathology at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, followed by a PhD in pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of British Columbia. She has been awarded a Fonds de la recherche en santé (FRSQ) Chercheurs-boursiers cliniciens award and a Canada Research Chair in Hematologiy and Oncology in 2011. Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on studying the inherent biological properties of cancer cells that render them more resistant to chemotherapy.
Major Research Activities
Dr. Johnson’s laboratory conducts translational research in the field of lymphoma, with a major emphasis on aggressive lymphoma subtypes that are most prevalent among adolescents and young adults. Dr. Johnson is the only hematologist in the McGill University Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program to address clinical needs and scientific questions pertaining to this patient population. She studies the role of recurrent genetic abnormalities in lymphoma cells on impacting protein function, response to chemotherapy and clinical outcomes. She also investigates the use of biological markers in predicting the response to conventional chemotherapy and novel “targeted” agents. She focuses on the genes and proteins that are important in inhibiting cell death following chemotherapy, such as the BCL2 family of proteins and cell surface “death” receptors. She employs techniques that are already used in clinical laboratories, such as flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry, so that novel and clinically relevant biomarkers can be rapidly introduced in the clinical setting. In addition, she uses more “cutting-edge” techniques, such as next generation sequencing technology, to discover novel genomic alterations that may improve diagnosis and treatment strategies in patients with lymphoma. In order to truly translate this basic science into clinical research, it is important to study the biological events in patient-derived primary tumour tissue and to perform the necessary clinical correlates. As such, Dr. Johnson is actively involved in tissue banking and is the director of the lymphoma banking activities within the Banque de Cellules Leucémiques du Québec (BCLQ) located at the Jewish General Hospital. The ultimate goal of Dr. Johnson’s research is to improve the clinical outcome for patients suffering from hematological cancers by accelerating the transition of novel scientific knowledge into clinical practice.
Morin RD, Mendez-Lago M, Mungall AJ, Goya R, Mungall KL, Corbett R, Johnson NA et al. Genes involved in histone modification are frequently mutated in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nature. 2011, in press.
Morin RD, Johnson NA,, Severson TM, et al. Tyrosine 641 in the EZH2 Oncogene is Frequently Mutated in Follicular and Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphomas of Germinal Center Origin. Nat Genet. 2010 Feb;42(2):181-5.
Savage KJ, Johnson NA, Ben-Neriah S, et al. MYC gene re-arrangements are associated with a poor prognosis in diffuse large B cell lymphoma patients treated with R-CHOP chemotherapy. Blood. 2009 Oct 22;114(17):3533-7.