Crick Lecture | Julian Downward

Crick Lectures

Crick Lectures are delivered by leading internationally-renowned scientists from the Francis Crick Institute and elsewhere and cover the full spectrum of biomedical research. They aim to be relatively accessible to scientists in all biomedical disciplines, whilst also offering something for the specialist.

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Title: “Curing cancer by targeting RAS oncogenes: why so difficult?”


Julian obtained his bachelor's degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University and then studied for his PhD 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 Julian started his own lab at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, which became Cancer Research UK in 2002 and is now part of the Francis Crick Institute. The Oncogene Biology Lab has provided critical insights into the molecular mechanisms of function and regulation of oncogenic proteins of the Ras family and their importance in human tumours.