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Professor John Holloway BSc (Hons), PhD, PGCert

Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Genetics, Associate Vice-President (interdisciplinary Research)

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Professor John Holloway is Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Genetics in the Faculty of Medicine and also Associate Vice-President (interdisciplinary Research) at the University of Southampton.

John Holloway graduated with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Otago University, New Zealand in 1992. He undertook research based at both the University of Southampton and the Malaghan Institute (Wellington, New Zealand) into the genetic basis of asthma graduating with a Ph.D. from Otago University in 1997. In 1997 Professor Holloway returned to Southampton and together with Professor Stephen Holgate continued his research into the genetic basis of allergies and asthma. He now heads the Respiratory Genetics Group, based in the School of Human Development and Health in the Faculty of Medicine, undertaking research into the early life origins of asthma and other allergic and respiratory conditions with a particular focus on the interaction between the environment in early life and genetic and epigenetic factors in determining susceptibility. Much of the group's work builds on the unique Isle of Wight Birth Cohort led by Professor Hasan Arshad.

Professor Holloway was appointed to a personal chair in the Faculty of Medicine in 2011. As well as his on-going research, he contributes to Molecular Cell Biology teaching as part of the Bachelor of Medicine program. He has held appointments on the Scientific Advisory boards of Asthma UK, and was member of Council for the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2009-2012) and vice-chair of the COST:BM1201 Developmental Origins of Chronic Respiratory Disease network (2012-2016). He has published over 150 papers field of allergy and respiratory genomics.


BSc (Hons), Biochemistry, University of Otago 1992
PhD, University of Otago 1997
PG Cert (Academic Practice), University of Southampton 2006

Appointments held

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Respiratory Cell & Molecular Biology and Human Genetics Divisions, University of Southampton. 1997-2001

Senior Research Fellow Human Genetics, and Infection, Inflammation & Repair Divisions, University of Southampton 2002-2004

Lecturer, Infection, Inflammation & Repair Division, School of Medicine, University of Southampton. 2005 – 2008

Reader, Infection, Inflammation and Immunity and Human Genetics Divisions, School of Medicine, University of Southampton. 2008 – 2011

Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Genetics, Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton. 2011 – present

Associate Dean Enterprise and International, Faculty of Medicine 2013 – 2015

Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Medicine 2015 - 31st August 2021

Associate Vice-President (interdisciplinary Research) - University of Southampton 1st September 2021 - present

Research interests

I lead an active research team based within Human Genetics and Medical Genomics theme of the School of Human Development & Health, Faculty of Medicine. My core research program focuses on the genetic and epigenetic regulation of allergy and airways disease. I aim to connect the basic science of population genetic variability and epigenetic regulation of gene expression with clinical. observations. The focus of my research at the basic-science - clinical interface aims to provide molecular insights into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of common respiratory disease.

My current research program focuses on genetics, epigenetics and functional genomics of allergic and respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD. This includes exploring the mechanisms of prenatal programming of respiratory disease; gene-environment interactions in the early life origins of asthma and COPD; characterisation of genetic factors influencing asthma severity; and identification and validation of novel asthma susceptibility genes. This work involves significant international collaboration with major research partners in the Universities of Memphis, South Carolina and Michigan State (USA), Bergen (NOR), and Melbourne (AUS).

A current major focus is NIH funded research programs into the epigenetics of allergy and asthma. It is believed that a genetic predisposition, along with exposure to environmental factors, alters the risk for asthma and atopy. There are four major gaps in our understanding: (1) Do epigenetic modifications alter the risk for allergy and asthma? (2) Is the epigenome, in particular the methylation of CpG sites, vertically transmitted from parents to offspring? (3) What environmental factors impact epigenetic marks? (4) In which developmental periods (pre-conception, pregnancy, infancy, adolescence) are induvial most sensitive to environmentally induce epigenetic changes? Addressing these questions will critically impact the prevention and treatment of asthma and allergies. We are attempting to answer these questions in the Isle of Wight longitudinal birth cohort by examining genome-wide DNA methylation in members of the cohort and recruiting their children as the third (F2) generation in this cohort.

Another major project is Epigentic analysis in the RHINESSA study. There is emerging evidence that asthma may result from exposures before conception. Supported by animal studies, our preliminary analyses suggest that the environment before conception is important for asthma and allergies, not least the environment of future fathers, and that adolescence may be a particularly important vulnerability period. If true, this will have immense impact on public health strategies. To investigate this the RHINESSA study led by Professor Cecilie Svanes (University of Bergen) is using epidemiological and epigenetic methods to study i) determinants for asthma and allergies that operate before conception, ii) vulnerable life periods, and iii) related epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenome-wide association studies will explore identified risks and vulnerability periods, and give a biological understanding that in turn will guide new epidemiological analyses.

In addition to these activities I continue to participate in a number of national and international consortia investigating the genetics of allergy and respiratory disease. This includes the Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics (PACE) consortium, a collective of research groups pooling data to understand the effect of prenatal / early life environmental exposures on DNA methylation and its relationship to childhood disease, and the UNICORN study which integrates birth cohorts with patient cohorts and randomised controlled trials for joint analyses, offering opportunity for a step change in understanding mechanisms underlying different asthma endotypes.

PhD Supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD and MD students from a wide range of disciplines. I am particularly interested in the genomics of allergic and respiratory diseases. Current and recent studentships include:

Student: Dilini Kothalawala

Supervisors: John W Holloway, S Hasan Arshad, Will Tapper and Faisal Rezwan

Development of a risk model to predict childhood asthma onset using data integration

Student: Jessica Jarvis

Supervisors: Graham Roberts, John W Holloway, Faisal Rezwan

Why do some infants develop persistent wheeze and asthma?

Student: Noeline Nadrajah

Supervisors: Eugene Healy, John W Holloway, Matthew Rose-Zerilli

Mutation burden of narrowband UVB

Student: Jelmer Legebeke

Supervisors: Diana Barelle, Jane Lucas, John W Holloway, Gabrielle Wheway

Improving diagnostic return on genomic data in Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and non-CF Bronchiectasis

Student: Veeresh Patil

Supervisors: S Hasan Arshad, John W Holloway, Faisal Reswan

Role of DNA Methylation in mediating the environmental and hereditary effects in asthma

Morphometric analysis of lung structure
Figure 1
Cluster analysis of cord blood DNA methylation
Figure 2


Human Development and Health

Affiliate Department(s)

Clinical and Experimental Sciences, RHINESSA study, The Isle of Wight Birth Cohort

Faculty of Medicine

Member of Faculty Executive Board

Chair Research Management Committee

Chair Web Strategy group

Member University of Southampton- University Hospital Southampton Joint Research Strategy Board

University of Southampton

Member of University Senate

Senate member of Council, University of Southampton

Member Research and Enterprise Executive Group

Member of IT Programme Board

Member of Research Integrity Group

Member Open Research Group

National and International responsibilities

Elected member of the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum

Vice Chair BMBS COST Action BM1201 Developmental Origins of Chronic Lung Disease (2012-2016)

Member Royal College of Physicians Working Party on the Long-term Effects of Air Pollution (2016)

Editorial board member, Allergy (European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

Editorial board member, Clinical Epigenetics

Scientific Advisory Board member, RHINESSA study, University of Bergen

Member Advisory Board European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Research and Outreach Committee.

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Book Chapters




The focus of my teaching is molecular cell biology in year 1 of the undergraduate Batchelor of Medicine course (BM5). I also contribute to pharmacology practical classes, teach small group tutorial classes, teach on postgraduate courses in Allergy and Genomic Medicine and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects

I am currently module lead on MEDI6082: Clinical Research Skills

Professor John Holloway
MP808, Duthie Building, University Hospital Southampton

Room Number: SGH//MP808

Telephone:(023) 8120 8758
Facsimile:(023) 8120 4264

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