Dr Ian Johnson

Emeritus Fellow

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After completing my postgraduate and post-doctoral research on epithelial physiology I joined the newly-founded Nutrition Division of the Food Research Institute in 1979.

I began by working on the physiological effects of non-digestible polysaccharides (dietary fibre) in the gastrointestinal tract, and later broadened the activities of my research group to cover the impact of minerals, phytochemicals, essential fatty acids and fermentable carbohydrates on intestinal cell proliferation, and on other aspects of human physiology related to cancer prevention, including epithelial epigenetics. Much of my work, which was funded at various times by BBSRC, European Union, Food Standards Agency and industry, has been conducted in collaboration with gastroenterologists and surgeons at the NNUH, and at other centres in the UK and continental Europe.

I have served in the BBSRC pool of experts, and as an invited expert on the SACN working group on dietary carbohydrates and health. Since retiring from full time research I have maintained an active interest in human diet and health, both through publications and media interactions, and by developing courses on nutritional science for adults, taught through the Workers Educational Association.

I am an Honorary Research Fellow in the Medical School at University of East Anglia, where I formerly held an Honorary Professorship, and I have recently become Chair of the Research Advisory Panel of the Big C Cancer Charity.


Key Publications

Johnson IT, Gee JM. (1981) The effect of gel-forming gums on the intestinal unstirred layer and sugar transport in vitro. Gut; 22:  398-403.

Latham P, Lund, EK, Johnson, IT (1999). Dietary n-3 PUFA increases the apoptotic response to 1,2-dimethylhydrazine, reduces mitosis and suppresses the induction of carcinogenesis in the rat colon.  Carcinogenesis; 20, 645-650.

Smith T, Mithen R, Johnson IT (2003) Effects of Brassica vegetable juice on the induction of apoptosis and aberrant crypt foci in rat colonic mucosal crypts in vivo. Carcinogenesis; 24, 491-495.

Polley ACJ, Mulholland F, Pin, C, Williams EA, Bradburn DM, Mills SJ, Mathers JC, Johnson IT (2006). Proteomic analysis reveals field-wide changes in protein expression in the morphologically normal mucosa of patients with colorectal neoplasia. Cancer Research; 66, 6553-62.

Tapp HS, Commane DM, Bradburn DM, Arasaradnam R, Mathers JC, Johnson IT, Belshaw NJ. (2013) Nutritional factors and gender influence age-related DNA methylation in the human rectal mucosa. Aging Cell; 12, 148-55

Johnson I. T.. (2016)

The cancer risk related to meat and meat products

British Medical Bulletin, 121, 73-81


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Connor C. A., Adriaens M., Pierini R., Johnson I. T., Belshaw N. J.. (2014)

Procyanidin Induces Apoptosis of Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Cells via JNK Activation of c-Jun.

Nutrition and Cancer, 66, 335-41


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Elliott R. M., de Roos B., Duthie S. J., Bouwman F. G., Rubio-Aliaga I., Crosley L. K., Mayer C., Polley A. C., Heim C., Coort S. L., Evelo C., Mulholland F., Daniel H., Mariman E. C., Johnson I. T.. (2014)

Transcriptome analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells in human subjects following a 36 hour fast provides evidence of subtle effects on genes regulating inflammation and apoptosis as well as energy metabolism

Genes and Nutrition, 9, 432


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Barrera L. N., Johnson I. T., Bao Y., Cassidy A., Belshaw N. J.. (2013)

Colorectal cancer cells Caco-2 and HCT116 resist epigenetic effects of isothiocyanates and selenium in vitro.

European Journal of Nutrition, 52, 1327-1341


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Elliott G. O., Johnson I. T., Scarll J., Dainty J., Williams E. A., Garg D., Coupe A., Bradburn D. M., Mathers J. C., Belshaw N. J.. (2013)

Quantitative profiling of CpG island methylation in human stool for colorectal cancer detection

International Journal of Colorectal Disease, 28, 35-42


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Barrera L. N., Cassidy A., Wang W., Wei T., Belshaw N. J., Johnson I. T., Brigelius-Flohé R., Bao Y.. (2012)

TrxR1 and GPx2 are potently induced by isothiocyanates and selenium, and mutually cooperate to protect Caco-2 cells against free radical-mediated cell death

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research, 1823, 1914-1924


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Ian Johnson