Graham Pockley

Graham Pockley

Director of the Van Geest Cancer Research Centre

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Associate Director / Professor of Immunobiology

Professor Pockley is the Associate 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.

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 retains an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Oncology at The University of Sheffield.

Research areas

Professor Pockley is a member of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre

Professor Pockley's laboratory has recently completed a study investigating the orchestration of innate and adaptive immune responses by breast cancer cell-derived factors (Funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign and in collaboration with Department of Radiation Oncology, Technische Universität München, Germany) and this work is continuing. Additional activities and attributes include:

  • In the top 5% of highly cited authors in the field of Biology and Biochemistry (data from Thomson Reuters)
  • January 2011 - December 2012: President-Elect, Cell Stress Society International
  • February 2007 - October 2007: Visiting (Gast) Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

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 and its influence on the induction of protective innate and adaptive anti-tumour immunity. He makes extensive use of multi-parameter flow cytometry and confocal microscopy to characterise surface antigen expression by lymphocyte sub-populations and their functional capacity.

Professor Pockley has supervised students in a range of subject areas relating to immunoregulatory mechanisms in disease processes. He is currently focussed on the influence of tumours and cancer cell-derived factors on the phenotype and function of innate and adaptive immune responses and the identification of immunological biomarkers of disease progression and treatment sensitivity. His work primarily involves cell analysis using multi-parameter flow cytometry and complementary techniques such as confocal microscopy.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD in the School of Science and Technology exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

  • President, Cell Stress Society International (2013-2014)
  • President-Elect, Cell Stress Society International (2011-2013)
  • Organiser, Sixth International Congress on Stress Responses in Biology and Medicine (UK, August 2013)
  • Academic Editor, PLoS ONE
  • Section Editor, Cell Stress & Chaperones
  • Editorial Board, Frontiers in Molecular and Cellular Oncology
  • Editorial Board, Chinese Medical Journal
  • Editorial Board, Immunological Investigations
  • Numerous invited lectures to meetings in the UK and overseas (e.g. Woods Hole Marine Biology Institute, USA; Québec City, Canada; Miami Beach, USA; Wuhan and Yichang, China; Tomar and Lisbon, Portugal; Berlin, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Concepción, Chile).

Sponsors and collaborators

Professor Pockley's work has 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, the Breast Cancer Campaign, Yorkshire Cancer Research and the Food Standards Agency.

Professor Pockley collaborates with a number of international groups, and has a long-standing collaborative relationship with Professor Gabriele Multhoff in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the 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. Read an article on the immunotherapeutic potential of an anti-membrane Hsp70 antibody in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and read how a death molecule can selective target cancer cells.

In addition to the following, Professor Pockley has also been the recipient (as a sole applicant) of funding from the National Institutes of Health in the USA (2011-2005, $375,000) and the Food Standards Agency (2006-2009: £547,559). Currently funded projects:

  • Imaging human breast cancer cells and their interaction(s) with potential immunotherapeutics using confocal and multi-photon microscopy (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 824 (2010-2013), UK contribution £85,000)
  • Role of regulatory T cells, stress proteins and their interaction in pulmonary hypertension (NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, Sheffield (2008-2012), £91,000)
  • Multicolour Flow Cytometer (Wellcome Trust (2008-2013), £132,000)


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

A novel expression and purification system for the production of enzymatic and biological active human granzyme B.Gehrmann M, Doss BT, Wagner M, Zettlitz KA, Kontermann RE, Eckardt-Schupp F, Foulds G, Pockley AG, Multhoff G, Journal of Immunological Methods, 2011, 371:8-17

Targeting membrane heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) on tumors by cmHsp70.1 antibody. Stangl S, Gehrmann M, Riegger J, Kuhs K, Riederer I, Sievert W, Hube K, Mocikat R, Dressel R, Kremmer E, Pockley AG, Friedrich L, Vigh L, Skerra A, Multhoff G, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 2011, 108:733-738

Upper- versus lower-limb aerobic exercise training on health-related quality of life in patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial disease. Saxton JM, Zwierska I, Blagojevic M, Choksy SA, Nawaz S, Pockley AG. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 2011, 53:1265-1273

Molecular chaperones and protein folding catalysts as intercellular signalling regulators in immunity and inflammation. Henderson B, Pockley AG, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2010, 88:445-462

Caught with their PAMPs down? The extracellular signalling actions of molecular chaperones are not due to microbial contaminants. Henderson B, Calderwood SK, Coates ARM, Cohen I, van Eden W, Lehner T, Pockley AG, Cell Stress & Chaperones, 2010, 15:123-141.

Binding of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) to extracellular phosphatidylserine (PS) promotes killing of normoxic and hypoxic tumor cells. Schilling D, Gehrmann M, Steinem C, De Maio A, Pockley AG, Abend M, Molls M, Multhoff G, The FASEB Journal, 2009, 23:2467-2477.

Elevated heat shock protein 60 levels are associated with higher risk of coronary heart disease in Chinese. Zhang X, He M, Cheng L, Chen Y, Zhou L, Zeng H, Pockley AG, Hu FB, Wu T. Circulation, 2008, 118:2687-2693.

Access a full list of publications via PubMed.

See all of A. Graham Pockley's publications...

Press expertise

  • Breast, prostate and brain cancers
  • Cancer Immunology and Therapeutics
  • Cancer Diagnosis and Prognosis
  • Cancer Immunotherapies
  • Immune-Based Cancer Biomarker Discovery
  • Immune Profiling
  • Precision Medicine
  • Commercialisation
  • Flow Cytometry