John Howard Sampson


Robert H., M.D. and Gloria Wilkins Professor of Neurosurgery, in the School of Medicine

John Howard Sampson Profile Photo
John Howard Sampson Profile Photo


Current research activities involve the immunotherapeutic targeting of a tumor-specific mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor. Approaches used to target this tumor-specific epitope include unarmed and radiolabeled antibody therapy and cell mediated approaches using peptide vaccines and dendritic cells. Another area of interest involves drug delivery to brain tumors. Translational and clinical work is carried out in this area to formulate the relationship between various direct intratumoral infusion parameters and drug distribution within brain tumors and normal brain.

The Duke Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program (BTIP) has an emphasis on translational research in Neuro-Oncology. There are two main areas of study. The first is novel mechanisms of delivery of large molecular weight molecules, such as monoclonal antibodies, throughout brain intersitial space using novel intracerebral infusion techniques developed by this laboratory. Studies exploring this technology are undertaken in both small and large laboratory animals and patients with brain tumors.

The other focus of the BTIP is translational immunotherapy. In this line of work, dendritic cell vaccination strategies and adoptive T-cell strategies have been developed to target novel and well-characterized tumor-specific antigens in patients with brain tumors. The BTIP integrates well with and works closely with the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. The BTIP is well funded and currently holds seven NIH grants, including a SPORE in Brain Cancer grant. There are a large number of investigators at various levels so that students will get exposure to various levels of research and mentorship.


  • M.D. University of Manitoba (Canada), 1990
  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1996
  • M.H.S. Duke University, School of Medicine, 2007
  • M.B.A. Duke University, 2011

Trainings & Certifications

  • Investigator in Cerebral Hydrodynamics Lab, Neurosurgery (1987 - 1989) University of Manitoba (Canada)
  • Intern, Surgery (1990 - 1991) Duke University
  • Resident in Neurosurgery, Surgery (1991 - 1998) Duke University


  • Robert H., M.D. and Gloria Wilkins Professor of Neurosurgery, in the School of Medicine
  • Professor of Neurosurgery
  • Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor of Pathology
  • Professor of Integrative Immunobiology
  • Professor of Radiation Oncology
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Member. National Academy of Medicine. 2017

Courses Taught

  • PATHOL 293: Research Independent Study
  • EGR 491: Projects in Engineering
  • EGR 393: Research Projects in Engineering
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)