Stephen Johnston

Innovations in Medicine
Center Director
Innovations in Medicine

Location: TEMPE

Contact Information
(480) 727-0792


Director, Center for Innovations in Medicine, Biodesign Institute

Director, Biological Design Graduate Program

School of Life Sciences 

Stephen Johnston is currently the Director for the Center for Innovations in Medicine (CIM), a Professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Director of the Biological Design Graduate Program at The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.  The CIM's and Dr. Johnston's current work focuses on innovative solutions to fundamental problems in biomedicine.  The CIM is unique in that it has brought together a group of interdisciplinary scientists who first identify a problem, analyze the physical economy basis of the related issues and then come up with an inventive solution.  Current major projects are 1) Cancer Eradication: The focus is on developing a universal, preventative cancer vaccine, 2) Health Futures: The aim is to produce a diagnostic system that allows  continuous monitoring of the health status of healthy people - helping in the revolution to pre-symptomatic medicine.   Dr. Johnston has experience in basic science, notably first cloning the Gal4 gene, showing that proteins have separable functional domains, and discovering the AAA proteins and their role in transcription.  His focus now is in translational sciences and technology development.  He was co-inventor/innovator of pathogen derived resistance, organelle transformation, the gene gun, genetic immunization, TEV protease system, expression library immunization, linear expression elements, synbodies and immunosignaturing.  He is author of over 150 journal articles, has over 20 patents, and has garnered approximately $85M in grant support including large programs from DARPA, NIAID and NHLBI.  


Drug targeting - vaccine technology - cancer treatment - presymptomatic diagnosis of cancers through identifying the biosignatures of disease


1981, Ph.D. in Genetics and Plant Genetics/Plant Breeding, University of Wisconsin/Madison

 Recent Publications


Berea A. R. Williams, Chris W. Diehnelt, Paul Belcher, Matthew Greving, Neal W. Woodbury, Stephen A. Johnston, and John C. Chaput. Creating Protein Affinity Reagents by Combining Peptide Ligands on Synthetic DNA Scaffolds. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 10.1021/ja9051735. 6 November 2009.

Boltz KW, Gonzalez-Moa MJ, Stafford P, Johnston SA, Svarovsky SA. 2009. Peptide microarrays for carbohydrate recognition. Analyst. Apr;134(4):650-2.

Morales Betanzos C, Gonzalez-Moa MJ, Boltz KW, Vander Werf BD, Johnston SA, Svarovsky SA. 2009. Bacterial glycoprofiling by using random sequence peptide microarrays. Chembiochem. Mar 23;10(5):877-88.

Betanzos CM, Gonzalez-Moa M, Johnston SA, Svarovsky SA. 2009. Facile labeling of lipoglycans with quantum dots. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Feb 27;380(1):1-4.

Ferdous A, O'Neal M, Nalley K, Sikder D, Kodadek T, Johnston SA. 2008. Phosphorylation of the Gal4 DNA-binding domain is essential for activator mono-ubiquitylation and efficient promoter occupancy. Mol Biosyst. Nov;4(11):1116-25.

Archer, Chase T ; Delahodde, Agnes ; Gonzalez, Fernando ; Johnston, Stephen Albert ; Kodadek, Thomas. 2008. Activation domain-dependent monoubiquitylation of Gal4 protein is essential for promoter binding in vivo The Journal of biological chemistry. Vol 283. No 18. 12614-23

Kumar, P.K., Y. Yu, R. Sternglanz, S. A. Johnstonand L. Joshua-Tor. 2008. NADP regulates the yeast GAL induction system. Science. 319: 1090-1092

Qu, B., Q. Xiang, L. Li, S.A.Johnston, L.S. Hynan and R. N. Rosenberg. 2007. AB42 Gene vaccine prevents AB42 deposition in brain of double transgenic mice. J. Neurological Sci. 260: 204-213.

Johnston, S.A. 2007. The Potential Importance of Presymptomatic, Host-Based Diagnosis in Biodefence and Standard Health Care. In: Global Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection. National Academy Press. p193-212.

Anwarul Ferdous, Devanjan Sikder, Thomas Gillette, Kip Nalley, Thomas Kodadek, and Stephen Albert Johnston. 2007. The role of the proteasomal ATPases and activator monoubiquitylation in regulating Gal4 binding to promoters. Genes & Dev. 21: 112-123. (Published in Advance December 13, 2006, 10.1101/gad.1493207)