Professor John Upham


Group Leader, Lung & Allergy Research


Anti-viral immunity in severe asthma

Immunity to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae in early childhood

Influenza vaccination in COPD

Immunity to viruses in people with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, causes of recurrent lung infections in Indigenous & non-Indigenous children, clinical trials of novel asthma treatments

About me

John Upham is a clinical scientist and respiratory physician with longstanding research interests in the immunological basis of airway inflammation, and the development of novel approaches to treatment. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. The majority of these are in the higher impact journals in the field.

He is a previous recipient of an NHMRC Neil Hamilton Fairley Fellowship, and the Young Investigator Award, Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand (TSANZ). He has been a long term recipient of funding from the NHMRC,inclduing Practitioner Fellowships, Program & Project Grants, a Development Grant and a CRE for Indigenous Lung Health.

Current projects include anti-viral immunity in severe asthma: roles of TLR7 and plasmacytoid dendritic cells; pathogenesis of protracted bacterial bronchitis in children; randomised trial of low dose azithromycin in severe asthma; genetic regulation of anti-viral immunity; influenza vaccination in chronic lung disease

After specialist training in Brisbane, John completed a PhD at the University of Western Australia, and spent 2 years in Canada, before moving back to Perth in 1998. In 2007, he moved to Brisbane to take up a position as Professor of Respiratory Medicine. He is based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Translational Research Institute, and is the academic head of the Discipline of Medicine within PA/Southside School of Medicine, University of Queensland.

John is married to Susan and has 4 daughters. Outside of work he enjoys cycling, reading and bushwalking.


  1. Rate A, Upham JW, Bosco A, McKenna KL, Holt PG. Airway epithelial cells regulate the functional phenotype of locally differentiating dendritic cells: implications for the pathogenesis of infectious and allergic airway disease. J Immunol. 2009;182:72-83.
  2. Yerkovich ST, Roponen M, Smith ME, McKenna K, Bosco A, Subrata LS, Mamessier E, Wikström ME, Le Souef P, Sly PD, Holt PG, Upham JW. Allergen-enhanced thrombomodulin (blood dendritic cell antigen 3, CD141) expression on dendritic cells is associated with a Th2-skewed immune response. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009; 123:209-216.
  3. Upham JW, Zhang G, Rate A, Yerkovich ST, Kusel M, Sly PD and Holt PG. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells during infancy are inversely associated with childhood respiratory infections and wheezing. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009; 124:707-13. (Highlighted as one of the Editor’s Choice articles for this issue)
  4. Roponen M, Yerkovich ST, Hollams E, Sly PD, Holt PG, Upham JW. Toll-like receptor 7 function is reduced in adolescents with asthma. Eur Respir J 2010; 35:64-71.
  5. Carroll ML, Yerkovich ST, Pritchard AL, Davies JM, Upham JW. Adaptive immunity to rhinoviruses: sex and age matter. Respiratory Research 2010 Dec 31; 11(1):184.
  6. Smith DJ, Yerkovich ST, Towers MA, Carroll ML, Thomas R, Upham JW. Reduced soluble receptor for advanced glycation end products in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. European Respir J 2011; 37:516-522.
  7. Upham JW, James AL. Remission of asthma: the next therapeutic frontier? Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2011; 130:38-45.
  8. Davies JM, Carroll ML, Li H, Poh AM, Kirkegard D, Towers M, Upham JW. Budesonide and formoterol reduce early innate anti-viral immune responses in vitro. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(11): e27898.
  9. Davies JM, Li H, Green M, Towers M and Upham JW. Subtropical grass pollen allergens are important for allergic respiratory diseases in subtropical regions. Clin Transl Allergy. 2012 Mar 5;2(1):4.
  10. Pritchard AL, Carroll ML, Burel JG, Phipps S, Upham JW. Innate interferons and plasmacytoid dendritic cells constrain TH2 cytokine responses to rhinovirus: a regulatory mechanism with relevance to asthma. J Immunology 2012;188(12):5898-905.
  11. Chang AB, Yerkovich ST, Gibson PG, Anderson-James S, Petsky HL, Carroll ML, Masters IB, Marchant J, Wurzel D, Upham JW. Pulmonary innate immunity in children with protracted bacterial bronchitis. J Pediatrics 2012; 161(4):621-625.e1.
  12. Pritchard AL, White OJ, Burel JG, Upham JW. Innate interferons inhibit allergen and microbial specific TH2 responses. Immunol Cell Biol. 2012; 90:974-7.
  13. Yerkovich ST, Hales BJ, Carroll ML, Towers MA, Smith DJ, Thomas WR, Upham JW. Reduced rhinovirus-specific antibodies are associated with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease requiring hospitalisation. BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 2012 Jul 31;12(1):37.
  14. Lynch JP, Mazzone SB, Rogers MJ, Arikkatt JJ, Loh Z, Pritchard AL, Upham JW, Phipps S. The plasmacytoid dendritic cell: a cell at the cross-roads in asthma (review). Eur Respir J 2014 Jan;43(1):264-75. PMID: 23429916
  15. Nath KD, Burel JG, Shankar V, Pritchard AL, Towers M, Looke D, Davies JM, Upham JW. Clinical factors associated with the humoral immune response to influenza vaccination in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Int J COPD 2014; 9: 51–56. PMID:24399872
  16. Baines KJ, Upham JW, Yerkovich ST, Chang AB; Marchant JM, Carroll M, Simpson JL, Gibson PG. Mediators of neutrophil function in children with protracted bacterial bronchitis. Chest 2014 May 29. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24874501
  17. Spann KM, Loh Z, Lynch JP, Ullah A, Zhang V, Baturcam E, Werder RB, Khajornjiraphan N, Rudd P, Loo YM, Suhrbier A, Gale M Jr, Upham JW, Phipps S. IRF-3, IRF-7, and IPS-1 Promote Host Defense against Acute Human Metapneumovirus Infection in Neonatal Mice. Am J Pathol. 2014 Apr 10. PubMed PMID: 24726644.
  18. Zhang, Xiao-yan; Simpson J; Yang I; Upham JW; Reynolds P; Hodge S; James, A; Jenkins, C; Peters, M; Lin, J; Gibson, PG. Full blood count parameters for the detection of asthma inflammatory phenotypes Clin Exp Allergy 2014 May 21. PubMed PMID: 24849076.
  19. Pizzutto SJ, Yerkovich ST, Upham JW, Hales BJ, Thomas WR, Chang Anne B. Improving immunity to Haemophilus in children with suppurative lung disease. Vaccine 2015 Jan 3;33(2):321-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.11.024.2014 PMID: 25448103

  20. Pizzutto SJ, Upham JW, Yerkovich ST, Chang AB High pulmonary levels of IL-6 and IL-1β in children with chronic suppurative lung disease are associated with low systemic IFN-γ production in response to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae” PLoS ONE 2015 Jun 12;10(6):e0129517. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129517 PMID 26066058

  21. Chang AB, Grimwood K, Gibson PG, Upham JW. Protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB): Definition, mechanisms and treatment. Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2015 Oct; 3(10):743-4. PMID: 26297667

  22. Xi Y, Finlayson A, White OJ, Carroll ML, Upham JW. Rhinovirus stimulated IFN-α production: how important are plasmacytoid DCs, monocytes and endosomal pH? Clin Transl Immunology. 2015 Oct 30;4(10):e46. PMID: 26682054.

  23. Simpson JL, Daly J, Baines KJ, Yang IA, Upham JW, Reynolds PN, Hodge S, James AL, Hugenholtz P, Willner D, Gibson PG. Airway dysbiosis: Haemophilus influenzae and Tropheryma whipplei in poorly-controlled asthma. Eur Respir J. 2016, 47 (3) 792-800; DOI: 10.1183/13993003.00405-2015.

  24. Upham JW, Sly PD. Editorial: Vitamin D in Asthma: Is the Golden Bullet Losing its Lustre? Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016 Mar 15;193(6):598-600.

  25. Chang AB, Upham JW, Masters IB, Redding GR, Gibson PG, Marchant JM, Grimwood K. Protracted Bacterial Bronchitis: The Last Decade and the Road Ahead. Pediatric Pulmonology 2016 Mar; 51(3):225-42. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23351.

  26. Simpson JL, Carroll M, Yang IA, Reynolds PN, Hodge S, James AL, Gibson PG, Upham JW. Reduced anti-viral interferon production in poorly-controlled asthma is associated with neutrophilic inflammation and high dose inhaled corticosteroids. Chest 2016; 149(3):704-713. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2015.12.018

  27. Lynch JP, Werder RB, Simpson J, Loh Z, Zhang V, Haque A, Spann K, Sly PD, Mazzone SB, Upham JW, and Phipps S. Aeroallergen-induced IL-33 predisposes to respiratory virus-induced asthma by dampening anti-viral immunity J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 (in press; accepted 9/2/16)

  28. Hodge S, Upham JW, Pizzutto S, Petsky HL, Yerkovich S, Baines KJ, Gibson P, Simpson JL, Buntain H, Chen ACH, Hodge G, Chang AB.  Is alveolar macrophage phagocytic dysfunction in children with protracted bacterial bronchitis a forerunner to bronchiectasis? Chest. 2016;149(2):508-515. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2015.10.066

  29. Scott HA, Gibson PG, Garg ML, Upham JW, Wood LG. Sex Hormones and Systemic Inflammation are Modulators of the Obese-Asthma Phenotype. Allergy (in press; accepted 19/3/2016).

  30. Simpson JL, Yang IA, Upham JW, Reynolds PN, Hodge S, James AL, Jenkins C, Peters MJ, Jia G, Holweg CT, Gibson PG. Periostin levels and eosinophilic inflammation in poorly-controlled asthma. BMC Pulm Med. 2016 Apr 30;16(1):67. PubMed PMID: 27130294.

  31. Wurzel D, Marchant J, Yerkovich ST, Upham JW, Petsky H, Vaughan-Smith H, Masters IB, Buntain H, Chang AB. Protracted Bacterial Bronchitis in Children: Natural History and Risk Factors for Bronchiectasis. Chest 2016 (in press; accepted 27/6/16).

  32. Navarro S, Pickering DA, Ferreira IB, Jones L, Ryan S, Troy S, Leech A…Upham JW, Julia V, Giacomin PR, Loukas A. Hookworm recombinant protein promotes regulatory T cell responses that suppress experimental asthma. Science Translational Medicine  26 Oct 2016:Vol. 8, Issue 362, pp. 362ra143

  33. McDonald VM, Maltby S, Reddel HK, King GG, Wark PA, Smith L,Upham JW, James AL, Marks GB and Gibson PG. Severe Asthma: Current Management, Targeted Therapies and Future Directions – A Roundtable Report. Respirology 2017 Jan;22(1):53-60. doi: 10.1111/resp.12957. Review. PubMed PMID: 27905186

  34. Arikkatt J, Ullah MA, Short KR, Zhang V, Gan WJ, Loh Z, Werder RB, Simpson J, Sly PD, Mazzone SB, Spann KM, Ferreira MA, Upham JW, Sukkar MB, Phipps S. RAGE deficiency predisposes mice to virus-induced paucigranulocytic asthma. Elife. 2017 Jan 18;6. pii: e21199. PubMed PMID: 28099113.

  35. Fricker M, Heaney LG, Upham JW. Can biomarkers help us hit targets in difficult-to-treat asthma? Respirology 2017 Apr;22(3):430-442. doi:10.1111/resp.13014. PMID: 28248008

  36. Taylor SL, Leong L, Choo JM, Wesselingh S, Yang IA, Upham JW, Reynolds PN, Hodge S, James AL, Jenkins C, Peters MJ, Baraket M, Marks GB, Gibson PG, Simpson JL, Rogers GB. Inflammatory phenotypes in severe asthma are associated with distinct airway microbiology. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017 (in press; accepted 15/3/2017)

  37. Gibson PG, Yang IA, Upham JW, Reynolds PN, Hodge S, James AL, Jenkins C, Peters MJ, Marks GB, Baraket M, Powell H, Taylor SL, Leong LE, Rogers GB, Simpson JL. Effect of azithromycin on asthma exacerbations and quality of life in adults with persistent uncontrolled asthma (AMAZES): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet published online 4 July 2017. PMID: 28687413

  38. Werder RB, Zhang V, Lynch JP, Snape N, Upham JW, Spann K, Phipps S. Chronic IL-33 expression predisposes to viral-induced exacerbations of asthma by increasing type-2 inflammation and dampening antiviral immunity. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017 (in press; accepted 1/8/2017)

  39. Chen AC-H, Xi Y, Carroll M, Petsky HL, Gardiner SJ, Pizzutto SJ, Yerkovich ST, Baines KJ, Gibson PG, Hodge S, Masters IB, Buntain HM, Chang AB, Upham JW. Cytokine responses against two common respiratory pathogens in children are dependent on IL-1β. ERJ Open Research 2017 3: 00025-2017; DOI: 10.1183/23120541.00025-2017.

  40. Teoh L, Mackay IM, Van Asperen PP, Acworth JP, Hurwitz M, Upham JW, Siew WH, Wang CYT, Sloots TP, Neeman T, Chang AB. Presence of atopy increases the risk of asthma relapse. Arch Dis Child. 2017 Oct 11. pii: archdischild-2017-312982.


Research fields

Lung disease, immunology, allergy