Professor Julian Downward
Professor Julian Downward

Associate Research Director, The Francis Crick Institute

Julian Downward obtained his bachelor's degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and then studied for his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry in the laboratory of Michael Waterfield at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, where he established in 1984 a link between a retroviral gene (v-erbB) and a cellular growth regulatory protein, the EGF receptor, leading to an ISI "citation classic" publication.

In 1986, he moved to Robert Weinberg's laboratory at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, 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 in London, which was renamed the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute in 2002 and became part of the Francis Crick Institute in 2015. The lab’s interests include the mechanisms by which cells respond to external signals that regulate their proliferation and survival, in particular the signalling pathways along which information is transferred leading from cell surface receptors to events in the cell nucleus, and how these are altered during the process of malignant transformation. We have characterised the molecular details of how Ras oncoproteins, which are mutationally activated in 30 per cent of human tumours, are regulated and how they transmit their signal to the cell through direct binding to multiple effector proteins including Raf and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase.