Professor Desmond Johnston trained at Edinburgh and Southampton where, as an MRC Training Fellow, he did his PhD under Professor Sir George Alberti. His work at that time investigated metabolic disturbances in liver disease and metabolic aspects of endocrinology. He moved to Newcastle where he was First Assistant to Professor Reg Hall. He subsequently obtained a Wellcome Senior Clinical Research Fellowship, investigating metabolism in diabetes.
Des is currently the head of the Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism Section within the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. In 1986 he was appointed to the Chair of Clinical Endocrinology at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, which became part of Imperial College in 1996. He became Dean (Clinical) of Imperial College London in 2004. From 2007 to 2011 he was Chief of Service responsible for Specialist & Elderly Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. From 2006 to 2012 he was Campus Dean at the St Mary’s campus. During his tenure as Dean he was instrumental in implementing a number of exciting refurbishment projects at St Mary’s.
In July 2005, he was appointed Director of the Department of Health-sponsored UK Diabetes Research Network (UKDRN). The UKDRN undertook large scale clinical studies and coordinated activities throughout England. In 2015 he became Head of Cluster A (Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, Kidney Disease and Metabolic and Endocrine Disease) of the NIHR Clinical Research Network. He is also currently co-Chair of the Council of Healthcare Professionals at Diabetes UK.
Des is currently working on various research projects including bio-inspired technology for insulin delivery and on diabetes prevention using mobile technology.
His major interests currently are in investigating early changes in insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, and other aspects of metabolism in people predisposed to Type 2 diabetes before diabetes develops. He is also interested in the mechanisms underlying the premature vascular disease to which people with diabetes are prone and in the associated metabolic disturbances such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. He has published numerous research papers on this and other related areas.