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The University of Southampton
(023) 8120 6174

Professor Anthony Sampson MA PhD FHEA FBPhS

Professorial Fellow in Clinical Pharmacology

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Tony Sampson gained a first degree in Natural Sciences at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Pharmacology from King's College London. He spent two years in respiratory research at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London and in 1985 joined the pharmacology department at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, a group known internationally for its research on lipid mediators, including the Nobel-winning discovery of the mechanism of action of aspirin. As the Newman Foundation Lecturer in 1990-95 he collaborated with the Thoracic Unit at King's College School of Medicine to research the role of leukotrienes as mediators of respiratory diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiolitis and chronic lung disease of infancy, and supported clinical trials of the novel class of leukotriene modifier drugs.

In 1995, he relocated to the Immunopharmacology Group in Southampton led by MRC Clinical Professor Stephen Holgate. His research team focused on the role of leukotrienes and related mediators in asthma, allergy and aspirin intolerance, with studies also in dermatological, gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. He gained more than £6M in charitable and commercial funding and generated over 120 research papers, reviews, editorials and book chapters. Prof Sampson has supervised 20 doctoral and 30 undergraduate research students and presented over 40 invited and plenary seminars on leukotrienes and leukotriene modifier drugs at conferences in 25 countries. He was a consultant member of the international respiratory advisory (AIR) board of Merck & Co during the period that its leukotriene modifier drug for asthma management became a global market leader with annual sales over $4 billion.

After three years as deputy director of the Immunopharmacology Group, Tony Sampson was the director of the Allergy & Inflammation Research (AIR) division in 2002-05, supporting its merger into the School of Clinical & Experimental Sciences (CES) in refurbished laboratories funded by a SRIF grant of £10 million from the Wellcome Trust.

Since 2006 he has led the Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics group. He was the leader of Year 1 of the Bachelor of Medicine (BM5/6/EU) programme from 2011 to 2018 and the Director of Undergraduate programmes from 2018 to 2021. He won the Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 2011 and was voted ‘Outstanding Faculty Lecturer’ by Southampton medical students in 2013 and again in 2014. He was a trustee of the Asthma, Allergy & Inflammation Research (AAIR) charity from 2006 to 2016 and an editorial board member of the British Journal of Pharmacology, Clinical & Experimental Allergy and PLOSOne.

Professor Sampson is the education lead for the School of Clinical & Experimental Sciences, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and an elected Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society. He is the co-author with Dr Derek Waller of recent editions of Medical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (Elsevier Ltd., 2014, 2018), the best-selling medical pharmacology textbook in UK medical schools, with significant sales in the USA, Australia and Europe. The textbook promotes an integrated approach to the teaching and learning of pharmacology and prescribing.


MA, Natural Sciences (Biological), University of Cambridge (1983).
PhD, Pharmacology, University of London (1989).

Appointments held

Research Assistant, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London (1983-85).

Research Assistant, Thoracic Unit, King’s College School of Medicine & Dentistry, London (1985-89)

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Thoracic Unit, King’s College School of Medicine & Dentistry, London (1989-90).

Newman Foundation Lecturer, Department of Pharmacology, Hunterian Institute, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London (1990-95).

Lecturer (1995-1998), Senior Lecturer (1998-2003), Reader (2003-2015) and Associate Professor (2015-2019) in the School of Clinical & Experimental Sciences, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine.

Professorial Fellow in Clinical Pharmacology (2019-), Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton.

Research interests

The classical familes of lipid mediators (eicosanoids including leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes) have roles in asthma, inflammation, auto-immune disease, pain, haemostasis and other important biological processes relevant to human disease. Drugs which modulate these lipids, including the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the leukotriene modifiers (lukasts) are among the world’s best sellers, being variously used as painkillers, anti-pyretics, anti-inflammatories, bronchodilators and anti-platelet drugs. There is much research also into possible roles of lipid mediators in atherogenesis, carcinogenesis and neural injury. In addition, new families of non-classical or anti-inflammatory lipids, including lipoxins, resolvins and protectins, have attracted interest as potential immunodulatory agents. Our research aims to explore the roles of eicosanoids and related lipid mediators in inflammatory diseases to support the development of novel therapies and optimise the use of existing drugs.

Characterisation of lipid mediator pathways in clinical disease

We have published a number of studies characterising the cellular expression of enzymes of the leukotriene (5-lipoxygenase) and prostanoid (cyclooxygenase) pathways in human tissues in health and disease. These studies include immunohistochemical analyses of biopsies from patients with allergic asthma, aspirin-intolerant asthma, viral-induced wheezing, allergic rhinitis, urticaria and eczema. Distinct patterns of enzyme expression have been related to disease severity and to responsiveness to triggers including allergens and aspirin. Measurements of lipids in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, blood, urine and sputum have supplemented this approach, and a grant from the AAIR Charity has helped to develop quantitative PCR assays for key enzymes and receptors.

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD)

We were the first to identify abnormal expression of leukotriene C4 synthase (LTC4S) in the upper and lower airways as a key immunopathological characteristic that explains the mechanism of AERD, a severe asthma syndrome associated with high mortality and acute sensitivity to NSAID ingestion. The syndrome has now been reproduced by an independent group in LTC4S-transgenic mice, supporting our finding that LTC4S is a key aetiological factor in this condition.

The 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) pathway in Barrett’s Oesophagus

Barrett’s oesophagus is a premalignant associated with acid reflux which carries a high risk of progression to oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Previous studies have suggested an involvement of prostanoids in this progression, but in studies with Dr Praful Patel (Gastroenterology, SGH) and DM students funded by the Wessex Cancer Trust (Drs J Shutt, P Boger, J Neale) we have shown strong relationships between 5-LO expression, leukotriene synthesis and disease status along the Barrett’s – adenocarcinoma spectrum. Laser microdissection is being applied to further localise these inflammatory changes.

Regulation of mediator pathways in lung and blood cells

The group has a long history of interest in studying the immunological and genetic factors that regulate lipid mediator production and release in inflammatory cells isolated from the lungs and circulation of healthy donors and patients with airway disease. The capacity of cytokines to regulate the 5-LO pathway has been studied in blood eosinophils and neutrophils and in lung epithelial cells and fibroblasts. We are also exploring the role of BLT2 receptors in T-lymphocyte proliferation and apoptosis (with Dr C Pickard and Prof E Healy). The isolation of cells from resected human lung tissue (with Dr Jane Warner) is enabling new approaches relevant to lung disease, including a macrophage model of AERD and co-supervision of a new BBSRC/CASE studentship with GSK to examine angiotensin receptor pharmacology on human lung fibroblasts.

Non-classical lipid families as novel smooth muscle relaxants

In a cross-divisional collaboration with Dr Chris Torrens (HDH), we are exploring the potential of anti-inflammatory lipids including resolvins, lipoxins and protectins to relax human small bronchi and pulmonary vessels, or to reverse contractions induced by contractile lipids and other agonists, possibly at shared receptors. These studies may lead to new treatments for asthma or pulmonary hypertension. An integrated 4-year PhD studentship has been awarded by the Gerald Kerkut Trust (Sampson, Warner, Torrens) to enable the airway work.


Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Affiliate Department(s)

Respiratory and allergy Research group

Postgraduate student supervision

Supervisor of eight PhD students, four MD students and one MSc student completed at Universities of London, Cork, Dublin, Southampton


James Shutt (DM)
Phil Boger (DM)
James Neale (DM)
Jim Callaghan (DM)
Melanie Jannaway (PhD)
Samantha Maitland (PhD)

Faculty of Medicine

Deputy director, Respiratory Cell & Molecular Biology, 1999-2002
Director, Allergy & Inflammation Research, 2002-05
Head, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2006-
Medical Selection Committee (2006-09).
Semester 1 Coordinator, deputy Semester 2 coordinator, Respiratory course coordinator.
CES academic unit executive group

University of Southampton

Member of Senate 2004-07

National and International responsibilities

MRC College of Experts
Fellow, Higher Education Academy
Member, BPS Committee of Heads of Departments (CHOD)
Member, Merck Sharp & Dohme International Advisory Board

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Book Chapter

BM5 Year 1 Coordinator
BM5 Semester 1 Deputy Coordinator
BM5 Semester 2 Coordinator
Subject lead for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, responsible for 300 teaching contact hours annually in BM5 and BM4.

Co-Chair, BM5 Years 1 & 2 Steering Group
Co-Chair, BM5 Years 1 & 2 Assessment Group
Member, Faculty Taught Programmes Management Committee (TPMC)
Member, Faculty Taught Programmes Assessment Committee (TPAC)
Member, BM5 Semesters 1-4 management and assessment groups
Member, BM5 Intermediate Assessment Group
Member, Quality Assurance & Enhancement Committee.
Personal Tutor

Education Lead for Clinical & Experimental Sciences
Chair, CES Education Working Group
Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award (2011)
Fellow of Higher Education Academy
External Examiner, University of Keele Medical School

Project supervision:
Supervised 15 PhD / DM students to completion. Two current PhD students and three DM students.
Supervised over 30 undergraduate research projects in FoM and SBS, including BSc, Intercalated BSc, BMedSc, MMedSc, and Year 4 study-in-depth projects.

Professor Anthony Sampson
University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine.
Tel: 023 8120 6174
Mobile: 0784 283 1565

Room Number: SGH/LF72/MP825

Telephone:(023) 8120 6174

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