Dr Kelly Johnston

Senior Lecturer, Tropical Disease Biology

Kelly graduated from the University of Glasgow with an undergraduate degree (MSci) in Parasitology, with a placement year at Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik. She joined LSTM (the first time) on a Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship during which she investigated, within the Filariasis Research group, the interactions of Wolbachia bacteria with eukaryotic cells. Following the award of her PhD, she continued her research on Wolbachia, both in immunological and drug discovery contexts and became the In Vitro Screening Co-ordinator for the Anti-Wolbachia (AWOL) Consortium, headed by Prof Mark Taylor.

During this time, she also developed her expertise in teaching, gaining a teaching qualification and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2019, Kelly took up a position of Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, where her teaching focused on immunology, biochemistry and parasitology.

She was also Programme Director for the Human Physiology and Anatomy & Human Biology BSc programmes, a Senior Academic Advisor and had roles representing the School in local and international partnerships in further and higher education.

Kelly has re-joined LSTM as a Senior Lecturer in Tropical Disease Biology. She will play a major role in the management and delivery of undergraduate teaching and lead the development of a new employer-focused short-course/micro-credential teaching programme, which will harness the department’s strengths in translational research. Kelly will also continue her research in Wolbachia biology, drug discovery and education/outreach.


Kelly has oversight of the BSc Tropical Disease Biology programme (run at LSTM in collaboration with the University of Liverpool) and currently teaches on the LIFE236 (Practical Skills in Tropical Medicine) and LIFE340 (Topics in Global Health) modules within that. She is also a BSc project supervisor and DTM&H programme demonstrator and assessor.


Selected publications

  • Quek S, Cook DAN, Wu Y, Marriott AE, Steven A, Johnston KL, Ford L, Archer J, Hemingway J, Ward SA, Wagstaff SC, Turner JD, Taylor MJ. (2022). Wolbachia depletion blocks transmission of lymphatic filariasis by preventing chitinase-dependent parasite exsheathment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 119(15): e2120003119

    Johnston KL, Hong, WD, Turner JD, O’Neill PM, Ward SA, Taylor MJ. (2021). Anti-Wolbachia drugs for filariasis. Trends in Parasitology, 37 (12): 1068-1081.

    Taylor MJ, von Geldern TW, Ford L, Hübner MP, Marsh K, Johnston KL, Sjoberg HT, Specht S, Pionnier N, Tyrer HE, Clare RH, Cook DAN, Murphy E, Steven A, Archer J, Bloemker D, Lenz F, Koschel M, Ehrens A, Metuge HM, Chunda VC, Ndongmo Chounna PW, Njouendou AJ, Fombad FF, Carr R, Morton HE, Aljayyoussi G, Hoerauf A, Wanji S, Kempf DJ, Turner JD, Ward SA (2019). Preclinical development of an oral anti-Wolbachia macrolide drug for the treatment of lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis. Science Translational Medicine 11: eaau2086.

    Hong WD, Benayoud F, Nixon GL, Ford L, Johnston KL, Clare RH, Cassidy A, Cook DAN, Siu A, Shiotani M, Webborn PJH, Kavanagh S, Aljayyoussi G, Murphy E, Steven A, Archer J, Struever D, Frohberger SJ, Ehrens A, Hübner MP, Hoerauf A, Roberts AP, Hubbard ATM, Tate EW, Serwa RA, Leung SC, Qie L, Berry NG, Gusovsky F, Hemingway J, Turner JD, Taylor MJ, Ward SA, O'Neill PM. (2019). AWZ1066S, a highly specific anti-Wolbachia drug candidate for a short-course treatment of filariasis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(4): 1414-1419

    Clare RH, Bardelle C, Harper P, Hong WD, Börjesson U, Johnston KL, Collier M, Myhill L, Cassidy A, Plant D, Plant H, Clark R, Cook DAN, Steven A, Archer J, McGillan P, Charoensutthivarakul S, Bibby J, Sharma R, Nixon GL, Slatko BE, Cantin L, Wu B, Turner J, Ford L, Rich K, Wigglesworth M, Berry NG, O'Neill PM, Taylor MJ, Ward SA. (2019). Industrial scale high-throughput screening delivers multiple fast acting macrofilaricides.
    Nature Communications 10: 11.

    Turner JD, Sharma R, Aljayyoussi G, Tyrer HE, Gamble J, Hayward L, Priestley RS, Murphy EA, Davies J, Waterhouse D, Cook DAN, Clare RH, Cassidy A, Steven A, Johnston KL, McCall J, Ford L, Hemingway J, Ward SA, Taylor MJ. (2017). Albendazole and antibiotics synergize to deliver short-course anti-Wolbachia curative treatments in preclinical models of filariasis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114: E9712.

    Johnston KL, Cook DAN, Berry NG, Hong WD, Clare RC, Goddard M, Ford L, Nixon GL, O’Neill PM, Ward SA, Taylor MW. (2017). Identification and prioritization of novel anti-Wolbachia chemotypes from screening a 10,000-compound diversity library. Science Advances 3: eaao1551

    Tamarozzi F, Turner JD, Pionnier N, Midgley A, Guimarães AF, Johnston KL, Edwards SW, Taylor MJ. (2016). Wolbachia endosymbionts induce neutrophil extracellular trap formation in human onchocerciasis. Scientific Reports 6: 35559.

    Clare RH, Cook DA, Johnston KL, Ford L, Ward SA, Taylor MJ. (2015). Development and validation of a high-throughput anti-Wolbachia whole-cell screen: a route to macrofilaricidal drugs against onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. Journal of Biomolecular Screening 20(1): 64-9.

    Johnston KL, Ford L, Umareddy I, Townson S, Specht S, Pfarr K, Hoerauf A, Altmeyer R, Taylor MJ. (2014). Repurposing of approved drugs from the human pharmacopoeia to target Wolbachia endosymbionts of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. International Journal of Parasitology Drugs and Drug Resistance 4(3): 278-86.