Graham Pockley

Graham Pockley

Director of the Van Geest Cancer Research Centre

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Director, John van Geest Cancer Research Centre / Professor of Immunobiology

Professor Pockley is the Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre and has a number of responsibilities relating to its administration and the management of its research programme. Research in the Centre focuses on the discovery and application of new cancer biomarkers for detecting cancer, monitoring disease progression and developing new immunotherapeutic approaches. Progress in these areas is based on a fundamental understanding of cancer cell biology and immunobiology.

The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre incorporates state-of-the-art technologies for discovering the genetic basis of the disease and developing new methods of diagnosis and treatment and is therefore well equipped for the challenge of modern day cancer research.

Professor Pockley's teaching interests relate to immunology and inflammatory mechanisms in a variety of disease states, particularly cancer.

Career overview

Having obtained a Doctor of Philosophy for studies investigating the immunomodulatory properties of human placental protein 14 from Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) in 1988, Professor Pockley undertook a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship studying ocular mucosal immunoregulation in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Wayne State University, Detroit, USA. In January 1990, he returned to the UK to take up a Lectureship and direct the experimental transplantation programme in the Professorial Surgical Unit at the Medical College of St. Bartholomew´s Hospital, London. He returned to Sheffield as a Lecturer in September 1994, and was promoted to Reader in Immunobiology in 1996 and Professor of Immunobiology in 2004.

Professor Pockley was the recipient of a Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship (2009-2010), the aim of which was to deliver training in Entrepreneurship and Commercial Exploitation. The Fellowship complemented his previous experience with the commercial sector via research contracts with Biotechnology companies in Canada and was primarily focussed on the development of a global resource for flow cytometry and related techniques ( This has been incorporated in the UK and was launched in July 2010. Professor Pockley's experience in these and associated areas positions him well for the provision of academic and commercial insight in areas relating to immunobiology, flow cytometry and cell analysis.

Professor Pockley became the Associate Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University on 1 May 2012 and its Director in September 2016. He retains an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at The University of Sheffield (2012 - present).

Research areas

Professor Pockley is the Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre.

Professor Pockley's research interests focus on the immunobiology of heat shock (stress) proteins and better understanding immunoregulatory mechanisms and their impact on disease processes. Of late, his principle interests relate to tumour-mediated immunoregulation, its influence on the induction of protective anti-tumour immunity.

Professor Pockley is currently focussed on the influence of tumours on the phenotype and function of innate immune responses, immune profiling and the identification of immunological biomarkers of disease presence, progression and treatment sensitivity, as well as the development of new cancer diagnostics and immunotherapeutics. His work primarily involves cell analysis using multi-parameter flow cytometry, complementary analytical techniques and natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapeutics.

He has supervised students in a range of subject areas relating to immunoregulatory mechanisms in disease processes and opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD arise in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website

A 2019 article in PLOS Biology1 has identified Professor Pockley as being in the top 0.5% (in terms of citation impact) of the ~6.9 million scientists that have published at least 5 papers since 1995 across all disciplines.

1PLOS Biology |

External activity

Sponsors and collaborators

Professor Pockley's research has previously been funded by a number of entities including the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation, Association for International Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health, USA (as a sole Applicant), the Breast Cancer Campaign, Yorkshire Cancer Research,  and the Food Standards Agency, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Sonderforschungsbereiche, SFB 824), Germany, the Cancer and Polio Research Fund and the Headcase Cancer Trust. He has also been in receipt of funding from a number or commercial entities.

Professor Pockley collaborates with a number of international groups, and has a long-standing collaborative relationship with Professor Gabriele Multhoff in the Center for Tranlational Cancer Research (TranslaTUM) at the University Hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, one of Germany's premier Universities. These studies are focussed on the development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for targetting membrane Hsp70 positive tumours.

Ongoing and Recent Projects

  • Development of new immune-based treatments for Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM): The Headcase Cancer Trust; September 2019 - September 2021;
  • NIHR i4i Reference Number II-LA-0417-20004: Developing a diagnostic tool, using SPAG5, for predicting clinical benefit from standard anthracycline combination (AC) chemotherapy in breast cancer: National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) i4i Programme:  June 2018 – June 2021;
  • EME Project: 15/178/09 - Autologous Stem cell Transplantation In refractory Crohn’s disease - Low Intensity Therapy Evaluation (ASTIC-LITE): National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) EME Programme; March 2018 – March 2022;
  • Implementation of a novel immune gene profiling platform for the generation and analysis of high-dimensional transcriptomic data from human tumours (Co-funded PhD Studentship): NanoString Technologies, Seattle, USA: October 2017 – September 2020;
  • Micro-environmental targets for restoring anti-tumor immunity in childhood acute leukemia: Qatar National Research Fund: September 2016 – March 2020;
  • Towards the development of new immunotherapies for leukaemia and other cancers: The Roger Counter Foundation: March 2016 – March 2019.



Professor Pockley currently has 198 publications (160 refereed publications, 20 peer-reviewed conference papers, 17 book chapters), over 100 published abstracts and several manuscripts currently under consideration.

Professor Pockley has also co-edited a Special Issue entitled ‘Heat shock proteins as modulators and therapeutic targets of chronic disease: an integrated perspective’ (Edkins A.L., Price J.T., Pockley A.G., Blatch G.L. eds) for Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, and books entitled ‘Molecular Chaperones and Cell Signalling’ (Henderson B., Pockley A.G. eds - Cambridge University Press),‘Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Stress Proteins in Infectious Disease’ (Pockley A.G., Santoro M.S., Calderwood S.K. eds - Springer, New York) and ‘Cellular Trafficking of Molecular Chaperones in Health and Disease’ (Henderson B., Pockley A.G. eds - Springer, New York)

Selected Publications (2017 - present)

Sabry M., Zubiak A., Hood S.P., Arellano-Ballestro H., Simmonds P., Cournoyer E., Mashar M., Pockley A.G., Lowdell M.W. (2019) Tumor- and cytokine-primed human natural killer cells exhibit distinct phenotypic and transcriptional signatures. PLoS ONE, 14(6): e0218674, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218674.

Snowden J.A., Hawkey C., Swaby L., Mellor K., Emsley R., Mandefield L., Lee E., Badoglio M., Polge E., Labopin M., Gribben J., Pockley A.G., Foulds G.A., Lobo S., Parkes M., Satsangi J., Papaioannou D., Lindsay J.O., on behalf of the Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Refractory CD Low Intensity Therapy Evaluation Study Investigators and the European Society for Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) Autoimmune Diseases Working Party (ADWP) (2019). Autologous stem cell transplantation in refractory Crohn’s disease – low intensity therapy evaluation (ASTIClite): study protocols for a multicentre, randomised controlled trial and observational follow up study. BMC Gastroenterology 19:82, doi: 10.1186/s12876-019-0992-2.

Dring K.J., Cooper S.B., Morris J.G., Sunderland C., Foulds G.A., Pockley A.G., Nevill M.E. (2019) Multi-stage Fitness Test Performance, V̇O2 peak & adiposity: effect on risk factors for cardio-metabolic disease in adolescents. Frontiers in Physiology, 10:629, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00629.

Wagner S., Vadakekolathu J., Tasian S., Altmann H., Bornhäuser M., Pockley A.G., Ball G.R., Rutella S. A parsimonious 3-gene signature predicts clinical outcomes in an acute myeloid leukemia multi-cohort study. Blood Advances, 3: 1330-46, doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2018030726.

Hood S.P., Foulds G.A., Imrie H., Reeder S., McArdle S.E., Khan M.K. Pockley A.G. (2019) Phenotype and function of activated natural killer cells from patients with prostate cancer: Patient-dependent responses to priming and IL-2 activation. Frontiers in Immunology, 9:3169, doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03169.

Breuninger S., Stangl S., Werner C., Sievert W., Lobinger D., Foulds G.A., Wagner S., Pickhard A., Piontek G., Kokowski K., Pockley A.G., Multhoff G. (2018) Membrane Hsp70 - a novel target for the isolation of circulating tumor cells after epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Frontiers in Oncology, 8:497, doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00497.

Foulds G.A., Vadakekolathu J., Abdel-Fatah T.M.A. Nagarajan D., Reeder S., Johnson C., Hood S., Moseley P.M., Chan S.Y.T., Pockley A.G., Rutella S., McArdle S.E.M. (2018) Immune-phenotyping and transcriptomic profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with breast cancer: Identification of a 3 gene signature which predicts relapse of triple negative breast cancer. Frontiers in Immunology 9:2028, doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02028.

Pockley A.G., Lindsay J.O., Foulds G.A., Rutella S., Gribben J.G., Alexander T., Snowden J.A. on behalf of the EBMT Autoimmune Diseases Working Party (ADWP) and the ASTIClite Study Investigators (2018) Immune reconstitution after autologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Crohn's Disease: Current Status and Future Directions. A review on behalf of the EBMT Autoimmune Diseases Working Party and the ASTIClite Study Investigators. Frontiers in Immunology, 9:646. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00646.

Vadakekolathu J., Johnson C., Schneider A., Buczek M.E., Al-Juboori S., Pockley A.G., Ball G.R., Powe D.G., Regad T. (2018) MTSS1 and SCAMP1 cooperate to prevent invasion in breast cancer. Cell Death and Disease, 9(3):344. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-0364-9.

Pockley A.G., Henderson B (2018) Extracellular cell stress (heat shock) proteins - immune responses and disease: An overview. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 373(1738). pii: 20160522. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0522.

Stangl S., Foulds G.A., Fellinger H., Pilkington G.J., Pockley A.G., Multhoff G. (2018) Immunohistochemical and flow cytometric analysis of intracellular and membrane-bound Hsp70, as a putative biomarker of glioblastoma multiforme, using the cmHsp70.1 monoclonal antibody. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1709:307-320. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7477-1_22.

Edkins A.L., Price J.T., Pockley A.G., Blatch GL (2018) Heat shock proteins as modulators and therapeutic targets of chronic disease: an integrated perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 373(1738). pii: 20160521. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0521.

Abdel-Fatah T.M.A., Rees R.C., Pockley A.G., Moseley P., Green A.R., Ball G.R., Chan S.Y.T., Ellis I.O., Miles A.K. (2017) The localisation of pre‑mRNA splicing factor PRPF38B is a novel prognostic biomarker that may predict survival benefit of Trastuzumab in patients with breast cancer overexpressing HER2. Oncotarget, 8:112245-112257.

Cosma G., McArdle S.E., Reeder S., Foulds G., Hood S., Khan M., Pockley A.G. (2017) Identifying the presence of prostate cancer in individuals with PSA levels <20 ng/ml using computational data extraction analysis of high dimensional peripheral blood flow cytometric phenotyping data. Frontiers in Immunology, 8:1771. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01771.

Cossarizza A., Chang H-D., Radbruch A., et al (2017). Guidelines for the use of flow cytometry and cell sorting in immunological studies. European Journal of Immunology, 47: 1584-1797.

Dunning-Foreman N., Vadakekolathu J., Laversin S.A., Morgan M.G., Reeder S., Pockley A.G., Rees R.C., Boocock D.J. (2017) A novel spontaneous model of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) using a primary prostate cancer derived cell line demonstrating distinct stem-like characteristics. Scientific Reports, 7:40633 | DOI: 10.1038/srep40633

Selected Additional Key Publications

Abdel-Fatah T.M.A., Agarwal D., Liu D.-X., Russell R., Rueda O.M., Liu K., Moseley P.M., Green A.R., Pockley A.G., Rees R.C., Caldas C., Ellis I.O., Ball G.R., Chan S.Y. (2016) SPAG5 as a prognostic biomarker and chemotherapy sensitivity predictor in breast cancer: a retrospective, integrated genomic, transcriptomic, and protein analysis.Lancet Oncology, 17: 1004–8.

Cosma G., Acampora G., Brown D., Rees R.C., Khan M., Pockley A.G. (2016) Prediction of pathological stage in patients with prostate cancer: A Neuro-Fuzzy Model. PLoS ONE, 11(6): e0155856. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155856

Abdel-Fatah T.M.A., McArdle S.E., Agarwal D., Moseley P.M., Green A.R., Ball G.R., Pockley A.G., Ellis I.O., Rees R.C., Chan S.Y.T. (2016) HAGE in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer is a novel prognostic, predictive, and actionable biomarker: A transcriptomic and protein expression analysis. Clinical Cancer Research, 22: 905-14.

Saif J.M.S., Vadakekolathu J., Rane S.S., McDonald D., Ahmad A., Mathieu M., Pockley A.G., Durrant L., Metheringham R., Rees R.C., McArdle S. (2014) A novel prostate acid phosphatase-based peptide vaccination strategy induces antigen-specific T-cell responses and limits tumour growth in mice. European Journal of Immunology, 44: 994-1004.

Gehrmann M., Stangl S., Foulds G.A., Oelinger R., Breuninger S., Rad R., Pockley A.G., Multhoff G. (2014) Tumor imaging and targeting potential of an Hsp70-derived 14-mer peptide. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105344. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105344.

Gehrmann M., Stangl S., Kirschner A., Foulds G.A., Sievert W., Doß B.T., Walch A., Pockley A.G., Multhoff G. (2012) Immunotherapeutic targeting of membrane Hsp70-expressing tumors using recombinant human granzyme B. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041341.

Stangl S., Gehrmann M., Riegger J., Kuhs K., Riederer I., Sievert W., Hube K., Mocikat R., Dressel R., Kremmer E., Pockley A.G., Friedrich L., Vigh L., Skerra A., Multhoff G. (2011) Targeting membrane heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) on tumors by cmHsp70.1 antibody. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 108:733-8.

See a full list of Professor Pockleys publications on ORCID or those that are listed on iREP.

Press expertise

  • Breast, Prostate and Brain Cancers
  • Cancer Immunology and Therapeutics
  • Cancer Diagnosis and Prognosis
  • Cancer Immunotherapies
  • Immune-Based Cancer Biomarker Discovery
  • Immune Profiling and Diagnostics
  • Precision and Predictive Medicine
  • Translational Research and Commercialisation
  • Flow Cytometry