University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Daniel E. Johnson, PhD

Daniel E. Johnson, PhD

Professor, Dept. of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Experimental Therapeutics

Research Summary

Daniel Johnson, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) at the University of California, San Francisco. He obtained a bachelor of science in chemistry and a bachelor of arts in mathematics, both from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Johnson earned his MA and PhD in molecular biology from Princeton University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to joining UCSF Otolaryngology, Dr. Johnson was a Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, and Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Johnson was also the Scientific Director of the Acute Leukemia Working group at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Dr. Johnson has published 68 original papers and 21 reviews and book chapters, and is Editor for the book entitled “Cell Death Signaling in Cancer Biology and Treatment”. He has maintained continuous NIH funding as a principal investigator since 1995, and has served as a standing member for both NIH and ACS study sections. Dr. Johnson continues to play an active role on multiple review panels for the NIH, VA, and other granting agencies. Since 2001 he has served as a Section Editor for Leukemia, the top-ranked journal for hematologic malignancies, and has also served as Editor for Cancer Research and Oncology Research. Dr. Johnson places a high priority on translating findings from his lab to the clinic, and has facilitated the development of clinical trials in both leukemia and head and neck cancer.

Dr. Johnson greatly values teaching and serving as a mentor for individuals with a broad variety of educational backgrounds. He has served as primary mentor for 32 trainees in his lab. Most of his trainees have gone on to higher academic or clinical positions, including 10 who are now junior faculty at academic institutions. He was the first lab-based faculty to be awarded the G. David Roodman Excellence in Mentorship Award by the University of Pittsburgh Hematology/Oncology Clinical Fellows. At the University of Pittsburgh he also was a leader for the Career Mentoring Program for junior faculty, and taught extensively in both the graduate and medical schools.


North Park College, Chicago, IL, B.S.. 05/82, Chemistry
North Park College, Chicago, IL, B.A., 05/82, Mathematics
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, M.A., 05/84, Molecular Biology
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Ph.D., 05/88. Molecular Biology
University of California, San Francisco, CA, Fellow, 12/92, Postdoctoral Fellow

Professional Experience

  • 1982 – 1988
    Graduate Student, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University with Mark Bothwell, Ph.D.
  • 1988 – 1993
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California at San Francisco with Lewis T. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.
  • 1993 – 2002
    Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
  • 1993 – 2016
    Member, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
  • 1994 – 2002
    Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh
  • 2002 – 2012
    Associate Professor with tenure, Depts. of Medicine & Pharmacology, Univ. of Pittsburgh
  • 2012 – 2016
    Professor, Depts. of Medicine and Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, Univ. of Pittsburgh
  • 2013 – 2016
    Scientific Director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Leukemia Working Group
  • 2016 – present
    Professor, Dept. of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 1980-1982
    President of Kappa Mu Epsilon, and Illinois Chapter of the National Mathematics Society
  • 1982
    Graduated summa cum laude, North Park College
  • 1988-1992
    Fellow of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, UCSF
  • 1989-1991
    American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1994-1995
    Fellow of the Lymphoma Research Foundation of America
  • 1999-present
    Editorial Board, Leukemia
  • 2001-present
    Section Editor, Leukemia
  • 2000-2005
    Member, ACS “Leukemia, Immunology, and Blood Cell Development” Study Section
  • 2006-2009
    Member, NIH Study Section “Drug Discovery and Molecular Pharmacology”
  • 2010-2013
    Editorial Board, Cancer Research
  • 2014
    G. David Roodman Excellence in Mentorship Award from Hematology/Oncology Fellows
  • 2015
    Chair, Special Emphasis Panel for NHLBI SBIR Phase I proposals
  • 2015-present
    Editorial Board, Oncology Research

Selected Publications

  1. Lee MJ, Jin N, Grandis JR, Johnson DE. Alterations and molecular targeting of the GSK-3 regulator, PI3K, in head and neck cancer. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2020 Jun; 1867(6):118679.
    View on PubMed
  2. O'Keefe RA, Bhola NE, Lee DS, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. Interleukin 6 is increased in preclinical HNSCC models of acquired cetuximab resistance, but is not required for maintenance of resistance. PLoS One. 2020; 15(1):e0227261.
    View on PubMed
  3. Lau YK, Ramaiyer M, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. Targeting STAT3 in Cancer with Nucleotide Therapeutics. Cancers (Basel). 2019 10 29; 11(11).
    View on PubMed
  4. Hu L, Li H, Lee ED, Grandis JR, Bauman JE, Johnson DE. Gene targets of sulforaphane in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Mol Med Rep. 2019 Dec; 20(6):5335-5344.
    View on PubMed
  5. Cai Y, Yousef A, Grandis JR, Johnson DE. NSAID therapy for PIK3CA-Altered colorectal, breast, and head and neck cancer. Adv Biol Regul. 2020 01; 75:100653.
    View on PubMed
  6. Leonard BC, Lee ED, Bhola NE, Li H, Sogaard KK, Bakkenist CJ, Grandis JR, Johnson DE. ATR inhibition sensitizes HPV- and HPV+ head and neck squamous cell carcinoma to cisplatin. Oral Oncol. 2019 08; 95:35-42.
    View on PubMed
  7. Sola AM, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. Investigational multitargeted kinase inhibitors in development for head and neck neoplasms. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2019 04; 28(4):351-363.
    View on PubMed
  8. Lee YS, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. An update: emerging drugs to treat squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2018 12; 23(4):283-299.
    View on PubMed
  9. Lee DS, O'Keefe RA, Ha PK, Grandis JR, Johnson DE. Biochemical Properties of a Decoy Oligodeoxynucleotide Inhibitor of STAT3 Transcription Factor. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 May 30; 19(6).
    View on PubMed
  10. Santuray RT, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. New Therapies in Head and Neck Cancer. Trends Cancer. 2018 05; 4(5):385-396.
    View on PubMed
  11. Brand TM, Hartmann S, Bhola NE, Li H, Zeng Y, O'Keefe RA, Ranall MV, Bandyopadhyay S, Soucheray M, Krogan NJ, Kemp C, Duvvuri U, LaVallee T, Johnson DE, Ozbun MA, Bauman JE, Grandis JR. Cross-talk Signaling between HER3 and HPV16 E6 and E7 Mediates Resistance to PI3K Inhibitors in Head and Neck Cancer. Cancer Res. 2018 05 01; 78(9):2383-2395.
    View on PubMed
  12. Johnson DE, O'Keefe RA, Grandis JR. Targeting the IL-6/JAK/STAT3 signalling axis in cancer. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2018 04; 15(4):234-248.
    View on PubMed
  13. Leonard BC, Johnson DE. Signaling by cell surface death receptors: Alterations in head and neck cancer. Adv Biol Regul. 2018 01; 67:170-178.
    View on PubMed
  14. Xu MJ, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. EGFR-targeted therapies in the post-genomic era. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2017 09; 36(3):463-473.
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  15. Johnson DE, Bauman JE. When the Damage Is Done: Selecting Patients for Head and Neck Cancer Chemoprevention Trials. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 09; 10(9):489-490.
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  16. Brand TM, Hartmann S, Bhola NE, Peyser ND, Li H, Zeng Y, Isaacson Wechsler E, Ranall MV, Bandyopadhyay S, Duvvuri U, LaVallee TM, Jordan RCK, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. Human Papillomavirus Regulates HER3 Expression in Head and Neck Cancer: Implications for Targeted HER3 Therapy in HPV+ Patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jun 15; 23(12):3072-3083.
    View on PubMed
  17. Peyser ND, Pendleton K, Gooding WE, Lui VW, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. Genomic and Transcriptomic Alterations Associated with STAT3 Activation in Head and Neck Cancer. PLoS One. 2016; 11(11):e0166185.
    View on PubMed
  18. Bhola NE, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. A sensible approach to targeting STAT3-mediated transcription. Ann Transl Med. 2016 Oct; 4(Suppl 1):S57.
    View on PubMed
  19. Peyser ND, Wang L, Zeng Y, Acquafondata M, Freilino M, Li H, Sen M, Gooding WE, Satake M, Wang Z, Johnson DE, Grandis JR. STAT3 as a Chemoprevention Target in Carcinogen-Induced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016 Aug; 9(8):657-63.
    View on PubMed

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