Professor Julian Downward obtained his bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and then studied for his PhD in the laboratory of Michael Waterfield at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London. In 1984, during his PhD, he established the link between a retroviral oncogene (v-erbB) and a cellular growth regulatory protein, EGFR.
In 1986, he moved to Robert Weinberg’s laboratory at the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, US, where he began work on the role of RAS proteins in human cancer.
In 1989 he started his own lab at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, later renamed the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, where his group provided insights into the molecular mechanisms of function and regulation of oncogenic proteins of the RAS family and the importance of their mutational activation in human tumours. This laboratory will move to the Francis Crick Institute in St. Pancras in early 2016.
Since 2012, he has also had a small group at the ICR, focusing on clinical translation of his work in lung cancer.
In 2005 Professor Downward was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, and became Associate Director of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, and subsequently Associate Research Director of the Francis Crick Institute. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Research in Professor Downward’s lab at the ICR is funded by a Senior Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust.