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5 mins with...James Arnold

Dr James Arnold is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences. He runs the Tumour Immunology Group and is Programme Director for the MRes in Translational Cancer Medicine. James has been with King’s Since 2012.

Dr James Arnold
Dr James Arnold

Briefly, tell me about your background and career up to this point

I conducted my DPhil at the University of Oxford, studying the glycosylation of immunoglobulins and their interaction with innate serum lectins. After a short one year Post Doc at Imperial College London, I went onto the University of Cambridge where I spent the next five years developing my understanding of tumour immunology and in vivo models of cancer with Professor Douglas Fearon.

I joined King’s in 2012 to establish my independent laboratory focusing on the tumour stroma as a therapeutic target in cancer.

What research are you currently working on?

My lab has dedicated a lot of time to studying the enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) as an immunotherapeutic target in cancer. A focus which is still ongoing. Myself and Professor James Spicer have been working towards translating the preclinical data into a first-in-human Phase I trial. My lab also has a broad interest in tumour associated macrophages, CAR T-cells and the immune-stimulating capabilities of chemotherapy, which from part of our ongoing investigations.  

What is a typical day like for you?

My position at King’s is a balance between teaching and research. I run the MRes in Translational Cancer Medicine. I unfortunately have little time to conduct experiments myself these days and spend most of my time writing manuscripts and preparing grant applications.

As I am in my office for most of the day, I probably drink more coffee than is healthy. The highlights in my day are certainly the opportunities to discuss data and the next lines of investigation with my team. I work with bright individuals, and I enjoy seeing their projects develop. Days are generally very busy and long, but I like the continuum of research, there is always something more to do when you complete a task. As we are working towards developing new treatments for cancer, it is easy to stay motivated.    

Where is your research area heading in the next five years?

I hope that in five years we will be immune phenotyping biopsy samples from patients with cancer that are receiving our HO-1 inhibitor. It would be amazing stage to be at, and we hope that the trial will be a success.

What would you like members of our School to most know about you and your research area?

I have yet to give a presentation at King’s without mentioning HO-1 at some point.. I guess I would like others to know that we do work on other things as well... No really, honestly we do… I guess just to say, watch this space!

What do you enjoy most/like best about your current role? 

I like the fact that you never know if the next piece of data which your lab generates could open up a new strategy for targeting cancer. Cancer is such a terrible disease and being in a position to improve the available treatments is really exciting.

What do you do with your time outside of academia?

I enjoy long distance running. However recently, I spend most of my spare time running after my two-year-old daughter.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? 

  • At each stage of your career always plan ahead
  • Learn to multitask as early as possible
  • Never ignore gut feelings when making decisions
  • Never procrastinate as time goes too quickly
  • Enjoy having a full head of hair... it won’t last forever.

Who do you look up to (inside or outside of academia)?

My PhD supervisor Dr Bob Sim has been a fantastic academic mentor and was a continual source of support and advice throughout my Post Doc years.  Outside academia, would be my mother whom dealt with my first 21 years of pre-career development and taught me, amongst other things, to pursue a career that I feel passionate about.

Any leaving remarks that you would like other members of our School to know about you?

My office door is always open for advice, a chat or a collaboration.


Favourite Movie: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

Favourite Book: Jamie’s Ministry of Food  

Favourite TV Show: Alan Partridge

Favourite Scientist: Unfortunately, too many individuals that I admire to select one


In this story

James Arnold

James Arnold