Professor Miriam Johnson

Professor of Palliative Medicine

Miriam runs one of the UK's first integrated palliative medicine/heart failure services at her clinical base in the Scarborough area. In conjunction with researchers in academic cardiology at Castle Hill Hospital, Hull she continues her study into the use of opioids (morphine-like medicines) for the relief of breathlessness in people with advanced heart failure. She also directs the Hull Breathlessness research group which investigates the use of non-drug techniques to help breathlessness in lung cancer patients. She is a co-director of the Thrombosis Research in Advanced Disease Alliance.

Miriam Johnson is Professor of Palliative Medicine at the Hull York Medical School and is co-director of the Supportive care, Early Diagnosis, Advanced disease (SEDA) research group at the University of Hull. Her research interests include the palliation of refractory breathlessness, palliative care for people with non-malignant disease, especially advanced heart disease and venous thromboembolism in advanced disease. Her projects use a variety of study designs and methodologies (clinical trials, qualitative studies, observational studies, secondary data analysis and evidence synthesis) and she holds grants from a variety of funders (NIHR, BHF, Marie Curie/CRUK, Dunhill Medical Trust) and has published widely in her field.

She is the Deputy Director of the Academic Clinical Training Programme (East Yorkshire) and the CRN Joint Speciality lead for the Yorkshire and Humber. In conjunction with the local cardiologists, she has developed one of the first joint services for heart patients in the UK at St. Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough where she is an honorary consultant and has edited two of the first books on integrative palliative care for people with heart failure.

Principal Investigator


1. Johnson MJ, White C, Watson M, Nelson AM, Noble S. HIDDen: Hospice Inpatient DVT Detection study. To NIHR RfPB £294658

2. British Heart Foundation – Commissioned project: Caring Together Cohort study: £160000 2014 – 2015

3. Johnson MJ, Maraveyas A, Young A. A qualitative sub-study to address the quality of life and patient experience of participants enrolled in the select-d trial To: Bayer £120,000

4. British Heart Foundation. Opioids for breathlessness in heart failure. £575,838.  2014 - 2017.

5. Marie Curie – project awards – October 2013. To adapt and validate a needs assessment tool that is fit for purpose in every day clinical practice facilitating the identification of supportive and palliative needs of people with interstitial lung disease (ILD), and triaging those requiring referral to specialist palliative care (SPC) services. CRUK/MCCC. £117,462

6. Johnson MJ. Winston Churchill Memorial Travelling Fellowship. 2015-2016 £6,100


1. Non-pharmacological management of breathlessness: a randomised controlled trial of different intensity training. Grant from SuPaC; NCRI £53,000. October 2006 - 07 

2. FAB study: Fan, activity and breathlessness. £14,404 April 2011. Hull York Medical School Research Strategy Board. £14,250. October 2011

3. Magnetoencephalography appearances in breathless patients. £14,404 April 2011. Hull York Medical School Research Strategy Board.

4. Diagnosis and Management of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with advanced cancer: how do physicians decide? £212,008 RfPB –Feb 2009 – June 2011. 

5. A randomised trial of high versus low intensity training in breathing techniques for breathlessness in patients with malignant lung disease: early intervention. £247,152. NIHR RfPB. 2011 – 2013. 



1. Higginson I, Brown J, Wilcock W, Sheldon T, Brown S, Flanagan L, Currow C, Crosby V, Johnson MJ. A randomised placebo-controlled, double-blind, feasibility trial of mirtazapine for breathlessness in life-limiting and advanced illness CRUK/Marie Curie. £288,436.87 

2. Macleod U, Mitchell ED, Gabe R, Rubin GR, Oliver S, Adams J, Duffy S, Finan P Johnson M. Cancer diagnosis via Emergency Presentation: a case control Study (Empress) £343,755 Cancer Research UK NAEDI call, 2014-2017

3. Exploration of preferred place of death, factors leading to hospital death and identification of key areas where alternative models of practice could facilitate death in the preferred place for patients with haematological malignancies. £250,913.  Marie Curie Cancer Care in conjunction with University of York EGU. 2011 – 2014

4. Yorkshire Cancer Research. Understanding and reducing inequalities for people with cancer in East Yorkshire. £750,000. 2011 – 2016

5. BHF. Palliative Care needs in Heart Failure. £249,339.94 (PI J McMurray. Glasgow)

6. NHMRC. Improving the treatment of breathlessness – a phase III randomised, controlled trial of sustained release morphine for the symptomatic treatment of chronic refractory breathlessness. A national Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative study. 2013_ project grant funding commencing_ 2014. AUS$860,808

7. Janssen D, Boyne , Brunner-La Rocca H-P; Johnson MJ, Currow DC. Timely recognition of palliative care needs of patients with advanced heart failure: a pilot study of the Dutch version of the  Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease – Heart Failure (NAT: PD-HF). Stichting Stoffels-Hornstra Foundation € 28,385 2015


1. CRUK/Marie Curie. Variation in the care of patients with bowel and blood cancers at the end of life: a feasibility study evaluating the potential of data linkage in the National Cancer Data Repository -Data linkage study £70,000. 2012 – 2013

2. NIHR HTA. A feasibility study to inform the design of a randomised controlled trial to identify the most clinically and cost effective length of Anticoagulation with Low molecular weight heparin In the treatment of Cancer Associated Thrombosis (ALICAT). £700,000 (PI: Dr Simon Noble, University of Cardiff)

3. Pfizer international. November 2008. £40, 000. Unrestricted educational grant for the Thrombosis Research in Advanced Disease Alliance (TRAD Alliance) website development project. Website under construction. A further £20,000 in 2010.

4. HOT: Home oxygen therapy for patients with heart failure. HTA grant awards. £1,208,902 January 2008, recruitment Feb 2012


1. Supervisor for clinical fellowship application: Jamilla Hussain: Minimising and managing missing data in palliative care clinical trials. DRF2013 awards NIHR £ 269,095

2. Gadoud A, Allgar V, Kane E, Oliver S, Macleod U, Johnson MJ. Recognition of the need for a palliative approach to care for patients with heart failure, COPD or dementia compared to those with cancer using Clinical Practice Research Datalink Academy of Medical Sciences Starter Grant for Clinical Lecturers. £30 000 2014 -2015

3. Dunhill Medical Trust clinical fellowship. “Needs Assessment in Parkinson’s Disease” to support clinical fellowship  2011 -2014.  £189,863

External to HYMS (University of Hull)

  • National palliative care conferences. As Director of St. Catherine’s education department I organised, in conjunction with the Royal Society of Medicine (2000 till 2011) and MarkAllen Publishing (2013 - ), two day national multi-professional palliative care conferences in Scarborough on alternate years since 2000.

  • European Palliative Care Research Centre (PRC) International PhD Course at the Edinburgh site.

  • Invited international tutor: Palliative care in non-malignant disease.  Nordic Specialist Course in Palliative Medicine

  • In addition to the above, I regularly speak at conferences. 

Within HYMS

  • Interactive afternoon session for year 5 HYMS students.

  • Organise and teach two cancer blocks to year 3 HYMS students in Scarborough.

  • Communication skills master classes.

  • End of life workshop. I co-facilitate a workshop for year 2 HYMS students on spiritual issues at the end of life. 

  • Deputy Director of the Academic Training Programme for Yorkshire and the Humber (East). (2012 - ) In conjunction with the Director, I assist the running of the NIHR clinical academic training programme for all clinical academic trainees (academic clinical fellows, clinical fellows) in all specialties across East Yorkshire.

  • Co-specialty palliative care group lead for the Clinical Research Network for Yorkshire and Humber

  • Clinical Advisor to Mayne Pharma.  This unpaid role (financial reimbursement is to the University of Hull) relates to advising the company with regard to the use of opioids for refractory breathlessness. 

Contact details

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