Julian Downward - Biography#

Julian Downward carried out post-graduate work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London with Mike Waterfield and post-doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Robert Weinberg before setting up his own lab in 1989 at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, which subsequently became the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute and now the Francis Crick Institute. He is Associate Research Director of the Francis Crick Institute. His work focuses on the role played by major oncogenes such as RAS and EGFR in human cancer. He established that the epidermal growth factor (EGFR) is the product of the erbB proto-oncogene, which ultimately led to the development of drugs targeting EGFR, such as osimertinib which is used to treat lung cancer. He was responsible for mapping out the signaling pathways linking EGFR to RAS and also showing that RAS responded to activation of the T cell receptor. In addition, he established the molecular pathways downstream of RAS linking to the MAP kinase and PI 3-kinase signaling pathways. More recently he has worked on finding novel approaches to targeting RAS mutant lung cancers, including through exploiting synthetic lethality, and also understanding effects of RAS signaling on suppression of the immune system’s response to the tumour. Julian is a Fellow of the Royal Society, 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. He was Chairman of the British Association for Cancer Research (2016-2021).

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