Areas of Expertise: Cancer biology
Professor Justin Stebbing is a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at ARU, Cambridge. He is Editor-in-Chief of Oncogene. He was previously a Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology at Imperial College, London (2009-2022), specialising in a range of malignancies, their treatment with immunotherapy (breast, GI and lung and clinical trials) and linking the laboratory to the clinic via translational research. He was also the NIHR's first research translational Professor of Oncology.
Justin's track record as a clinician scientist has led to more than 650 peer-reviewed papers, more than 50 of which have appeared in journals with an impact factor exceeding 10, the vast majority as first or last author (current H-score on Google Scholar = 88).
He originally studied medicine at Trinity College, Oxford, gaining a first class degree before moving to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA then returning to complete training at the Royal Marsden and St Barts Hospitals. In 2007 he was appointed a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, London and a Consultant Oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, then a Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology in 2009 (he is now a Visiting Professor there).
The nature of Justin's scientific contributions and international leadership in translational research were recognised by being awarded the NIHR’s first research translational professorship, becoming Editor-in-Chief of Oncogene - Springer Nature’s cancer journal - and elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
He was also Chair of the Irish Cancer Society and a national charity, Action Against Cancer, was set up to support his research.
Justin originally commenced his translational research career investigating the link between immunology, tumours and viruses, establishing mechanisms of non-progression in disease such as HIV-1. He extended this to cancer, showing how antiretrovirals worked to prevent tumorigenesis at both an individual level and in large cohorts. This occurred as soon as he arrived back in the UK following his residency program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and he completed an MRC-funded PhD fellowship on the contribution of viruses and immunity to cancer and its eradication.
His papers on HIV-1 and antiretrovirals (as first or last author he published more than 150 on HIV/cancer, including 30 in journals with an impact factor exceeding 10), showed a reduction in mortality in AIDS-defining cancers and resolution of individual lesions.
Following this, Justin turned his attention to solid cancers, and focused on drug development, non-coding RNAs, kinases and biomarkers. By way of one example, a team he led described for the first time a new gene, LMTK3 (published in Nature Medicine), and went on to establish its place in some of the most central tumorigenic pathways. We are now undertaking a drug-development program across malignancies. This is also designed to increase health and wealth of the nation, establish national/international collaborations and provide training/teaching for scientists, linking their work to the clinic.
In the last few years, work on this kinase alone has led to high impact factor papers as first or last author in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gastroenterology, Cell Reports, Science Signaling, PNAS, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics and Genome Research, in differing models, to name a sample.
Justin has also been a Principal Investigator on a large number of clinical studies of novel/innovative compounds but also led the global development of a biosimilar (CT-P6) of the high value drug Herceptin, and it is now available to the developing world cheaply, ensuring equity in low- and middle-income countries.
There has been global media interest in this work over the years and he has been committed to communicating the excitement of biomedical science to lay audiences.
During the pandemic, Justin was motivated with his team to make a difference. Following his Lancet journal publications describing using AI to find a new drug in early 2020 (now cited thousands of times), he led many of the mechanistic, laboratory and global studies leading to baricitinib’s FDA approval in November 2020. The WHO has given it its highest evidence level.
Baricitinib has the greatest mortality benefits of any drug in the pandemic for hospitalized patients with COVID-19. A book he wrote describing the story of its discovery, Witness to Covid, is widely available. It is testament to the broad utility of AI, teamwork and collaboration.
Recent papers Justin has published bring down barriers between industry and academics. To give one example, a recent Science Advances paper he led includes 55 authors from 33 institutions in 12 countries. He was the senior author on an LMTK3 paper in the same issue of Science Advances. In 2023 Justin's team published in Nature Communications the mutational landscape of the healthy breast which provides a normal reference breast genome, and helps understand the effects of age and pregnancy on mutations in normal cells.
Aligning with his CT-P6 biosimilar work which concerned equitable drug access, baricitinib for COVID-19 as a simple once/daily tablet with a short half-life, no drug-drug interactions, a low cost and few side effects, has lent itself for use in low- and middle-income countries, a key component of his work. He aims to make a difference to the quality and quantity of life of patients, and help turn cancer into a curable disease.
Selected papers from the last two years
Liang F, Peng L, Wu Z, Giamas G, Stebbing J. Design and reporting of phase III oncology trials with prospective biomarker validation. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2023;115:174-180.
Cereser B, You A, Tabassum N, Belluz LDB, Zagorac S, Ancheta KRZ, Zhong R, Miere C, Jeffries-Jones A, Moderau N, Werner B, Stebbing J. The mutational landscape of the adult healthy parous and nulliparous human breast. Nature Communications, 2023;14:1536.
Stebbing J, Takis PG, Sands PJ, Maslin L, Lewis MR, Gleason K, Page K, Guttery D, Fernandez-Garcia D, Primrose L, Shaw JA. Comparison of phenomics and cfDNA in a large breast screening population: the Breast Screening and Monitoring Study (BSMS). Oncogene, 2023;11:825-832.
Agenarelli A, Betran AL, Papakyriacou A, Vella V, Samuels M, Papastaolopous P, Giamas C, Mancini EJ, Stebbing J, Spencer J, Kilabrasi C, Ditsiou A, Giamas G. The inhibitory properties of a novel, selective LMTK3 inhibitor. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2023;24:865.
Salmerón Ríos S, Cortés Zamora EB, Avendaño Céspedes A, Romero Rizos L, Sánchez-Jurado PM, Sánchez-Nievas G, Mas Romero M, Tabernero Sahuquillo MT, Blas Señalada JJ, Murillo Romero A, García Nogueras I, Estrella Cazalla JD, Andrés-Pretel F, Lauschke VM, Stebbing J, Abizanda P. Immunogenicity after 6 months of BNT162b2 vacccination in frail or disabled nursing home residents: The COVID-A study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2022;70:650-658.
Richardson P, Stebbing J. Baricitinib as the treatment of choice for hospitalised patients with COVID-19. EClinicalmedicine, 2022;49:101493.
Richardson PJ, Robinson BWS, Smith DP, Stebbing J. The AI-assisted identification and clinical efficacy of baricitinib in the treatment of COVID-19. Vaccines, 2022;10:951.
Shapira S, Ben Shmon M, Hay-Levi M, Shenber G, Chosen G, Bannon L, Tepper M, Kazanov D, Seni J, Lev-Ari S, Peer M, Boubas D, Stebbing J, Tsiodras S, Arber N. A platform for attenuating immune hyperactivity using exosomes displaying CD24 (EXO-CD24) in Coronavirus Disease-2019. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2022;14:e15997.
Stebbing J, Nievas GS, Falcone M, Youhanna S, Richardson P, Ottaviani S, Shen JX, Sommerauer C, Tiseo G, Ghiadoni L, Virdis A, Monzani F, Rizos LR, Forfori F, Céspedes AA, De Marco S, Carrozzi L, Lena F, Sánchez-Jurado PM, Lacerenza LG, Cesira N, Bernardo DC, Perrella A, Niccoli L, Méndez LS, Matarrese D, Goletti D, Tan YJ, Monteil V, Dranitsaris G, Cantini F, Farcomeni A, Dutta S, Burley SK, Zhang H, Pistello M, Li W, Romero MM, Pretel FA, Simón-Talero RS, García-Molina R, Kutter C, Felce JH, Nizami ZF, Miklosi AG, Penninger JM, Menichetti F, Mirazimi A, Abizanda P, Lauschke VM. JAK inhibition reduces SARS-CoV-2 liver infectivity and modulates inflammatory responses to reduce morbidity and mortality. Science Advances, 2021;7:eabe4724.
These data amongst others (many of which are below), led to an Emergency Use Authorisation by the USA Food and Drug Administration for baricitinib to treat hospitalised patients with COVID-19, 9 months after our initial papers in the Lancet and Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Sims JT, Krishnan V, Chang C-Y, Engle SM, Casalini G, Rodgers GH, Bivi N, Nickoloff BJ, Konrad RJ, de Bono S, Higgs RE, Benschop RJ, Ottaviani S, Cardosa A, Nirula A, Corbellino M, Stebbing J. Characterization of the Cytokine Storm Reflects Hyperinflammatory Endothelial Dysfunction in COVID-19. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2021;147:107-111.
Stebbing J, Lauschke V. JAK inhibitors: more than glucocorticoids. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021;385(5):463-465.
Kalil AC, Stebbing J. Baricitinib: The first immunomodulatory treatment for COVID-19 to demonstrate mortality reduction in a placebo-controlled double-blind study. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2021;S2213-2600(21)00358-1.
Melikhov O, Kruglova T, Lytkina K, Melkonyan G, Prokhorovich E, Putsman G, Rodoman G, Vertkin A, Zagrebneva A, Stebbing J. The use of Janus kinase inhibitors in COVID-19: a prospective observational series in 522 individuals. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 2021;80:1245-1246.
Salmerón Ríos S, Mas Romero M, Cortés Zamora EB, Tabernero Sahuquillo MT, Romero Rizos L, Sánchez-Jurado PM, Sánchez-Nievas G, Blas Señalada JJ, García Nogueras I, Estrella Cazalla JD, Andrés-Pretel F, Murillo Romero A, Lauschke VM, Stebbing J, Abizanda P. Immunogenicity of the BNT162b2 vaccine in frail or disabled nursing home residents: COVID-A study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2021;69:1441-1447.
Pallett SJC, Denny SJ, Patel A, Charani E, Mughal N, Stebbing J, Davies GW, Moore LSP. Point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 serological assays for enhanced case finding in a UK inpatient population. Scientific Reports, 2021;11:5860.
Majra D, Benson J, Pitts C, Stebbing J. SARS-CoV-2 superspreader events. Journal of Infection, 2021;82:36-40.
Lenz HJ, Richardson P, Stebbing J. The emergence of baricitinib: a story of tortoises versus hares. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2021;72:1251-1254.
Abizanda P, Calbo Mayo MM, Mas Romero M, Cortes Zamora EB, Tabernerno Sahuquillo MTT, Romero Rizos LR, Sanchez-Jurado PM, Sanchez-Nevas G, Andres-Pretel F, Lauschke VM, Stebbing J. Baricitinib significantly reduces 30-day mortality in older adults with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 202169:2752-2758;.
Zhang H, Han H, He T, Labbe KE, Hernandez-Diaz A, Chen H, Velcheti V, Stebbing J*, Wong KK. Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes of COVID-19-Infected Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2021;113:371-380. *joint last author.
Zhang H, Han H, He T, Labbe KE, Hernandez-Diaz A, Chen H, Velcheti V, Stebbing J, Wong KK. Letter in Response to Cottu, Bozec, Basse, and Paoletti. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2021;113:344-345.
Castellano L, Zagorac S, de Giorgio A, Kalisz M, Casas-Vila N, Cathcart P, You A, Ottaviani S, Degani N, Lombardo Y, Tweedie A, Nissan T, Vance K, Ulitsky I, Stebbing J*, Dabrowska A*. SCIRT lncRNA restrains tumourigenesis by opposing transcriptional programmes of tumour-initiating cells. Cancer Research, 2021;81:580-593. *joint last author.
Page K, Martinson LJ, Hastings RK, Fernandez-Garcia D, Gleason KLT, Gray MC, Rushton AJ, Goddard K, Guttery DS, Stebbing J, Coombes RC, Shaw JA. Prevalence of ctDNA in early screen-detected breast cancers using highly sensitive and specific dual molecular barcoded mutation assays. Annals of Oncology, 2021;S0923-7534.
Cilibrasi C, Ditsiou A, Papakyriakou A, Mavridis G, Eravci M, Stebbing J, Gagliano T, Giamas G. LMTK3 inhibition affects microtubule stability. Molecular Cancer, 2021;20:53.
Stebbing J, Baranau YV, Baryash V, Manikhas A, Moiseyenko V, Dzagnidze G, Zhavrid E, Boliukh D, Pikiel J, Eniu AE, Li RK, Tiangco B, Lee SJ, Kim S. Long term efficacy and safety of CT-P6 versus trastuzumab in patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer: final results from a randomized phase III trial. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2021;188:631-640.
Page K, Martinson LJ, Fernandez-Garcia D, Hills A, Gleason KT, Gray MC, Rushtonn AJ, Nteliopoulos G, Hastings RK, Goddard K, Ions LM, Palmieri C, Ali S, Stebbing J, Coombes RC. Circulating tumour DNA profiling from Breast Cancer screening through to metastatic disease. JCO Precision Oncology, 2021;24:5.
Zhu L, Wang Z, Sun Y, Giamas G, Stebbing J, Yu Z, Peng L. A prediction model using alternative splicing events and the immune microenvironment signature in lung adenocarcinoma. Frontiers in Oncology, 2021;11:778637.
Malczewska A, Frampton AE, Mato Prado M, Ameri S, Dabrowska AF, Zagorac S, Clift AK, Kos-Kudła B, Faiz O, Stebbing J, Castellano L, Frilling A. Circulating MicroRNAs in Small-bowel Neuroendocrine Tumors: A Potential Tool for Diagnosis and Assessment of Effectiveness of Surgical Resection. Annals of Surgery, 2021;274:e1-e9.
Peng L, Li J, Wu J, Xu B, Wang Z, Giamas G, Stebbing J, Yu Z. A pan-cancer analysis of SMARCA4 alterations in human cancers. Frontiers in Oncology, 2021;12:762598.
Peng L, Lu D, Xia Y, Hong S, Selvaggi G, Stebbing J, Sun Y, Liang F. Efficacy and safety of first line treatment strategies for anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer: a Bayesian network meta-analysis. Frontiers in Oncology, 2021;11:754-768.
Cervical cancer: NHS pledge to eradicate disease by 2040 can be achieved – here’s how, The Conversation, 20 November 2023.
Breast cancer breakthrough - Scientists discover why older mothers face risk, Express, 11 September 2023.
Bodily changes in pregnancy raise breast cancer risk for older mothers, The Telegraph, 6 September 2023.
Pancreatic cancer: a personalised mRNA vaccine may boost effects of treatment, The Conversation, 19 May 2023.
London-based Justin Stebbing, M.D. and his Journey of Discovery Finding Improved Therapies for Cancer and Covid, The Mentors Radio, 27 January 2023.
Cancer vaccine trials could start in the autumn – UK signs deal with BioNTech, The Conversation, 12 January 2023.
Lockdown's collateral cancer timebomb: 40 THOUSAND tumours were 'missed' during first year of Covid pandemic - the equivalent of one every 13 minutes... but top experts fear this is just 'the tip of the iceberg', MailOnline, 20 October 2022.
Rationale for baricitinib’s use in COVID-19 patients demonstrated, MDedge Rheumatology, 24 November 2020.
The arthritis drug baricitinib may improve COVID-19 survival. MedScape UK, 19 November 2020.
'Baricitinib': This arthritis drug may improve Covid survival in elderlies, Ummid.com, 16 November 2020.
Arthritis drug cuts COVID-19 deaths in hospitalized patients by two-thirds: study, New York Post, 15 November 2020.
Cancer patients at increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, Imperial College London, 13 November 2020.
COVID-19 survival among elderly patients could be improved by arthritis drug, Imperial College London, 13 November 2020.
Data Published In Science Advances Shows Baricitinib Reduces COVID-19 Morbidity And Mortality, BenevolentAI, 13 November 2020.
Covid kills a FIFTH of all cancer patients - with lung and blood cancer sufferers the most at risk, MailOnline, 8 November 2020.
Coronavirus kills one in five cancer patients, research shows, The Telegraph, 7 November 2020.
Expert reaction to study looking at delays in cancer treatment and risk of death, Science Media Centre, 4 November 2020.
AI-discovered Olumiant could become Covid-19 drug soon, Korea Biomedical Review, 16 September 2020.
Coronavirus death rate could be halved with new blood biomarker tests, say experts, The Telegraph, 14 September 2020.
First Of Its Kind Study: Delaying Motherhood Until 30s Significantly Raises Breast Cancer Risk, MotherHood, 11 September 2020.
Waiting Until Your 30s To Conceive May Put You At High Risk For Breast Cancer,Babygaga, 10 September 2020.
Delaying motherhood until 30s 'significantly raises breast cancer risk', The Telegraph, 8 September 2020.
Ball is not a ‘vector of disease’, new scientific study shows, The Times (and other media outlets), 4 July 2020.
How A.I. Steered Doctors Toward a Possible Coronavirus Treatment, New York Times, 30 April 2020.
Potential new treatment for COVID-19 uncovered by BenevolentAI enters trials, TechCrunch, 14 April 2020.
Potential Treatment For COVID-19 Identified By BenevolentAI Enters Randomised Clinical Trial, BenevolentAI, 10 April 2020.