Julian is the Founding Director of the Intellectual Forum, which is aimed at covering the widest range of academic interests across the College.
His background is as a scientist, working on unusual structures of DNA. In particular, DNA of particular sequences can form four-stranded knot-like structures called G-quadruplexes, which can function as genomic switches, turning genes on and off. His work used biophysical and computational methods to predict the formation of these structures, and has led to the identification of a large number of possible anti-cancer drug targets.
After five years away as the MP for Cambridge, his research focus changed to look at science and technology policy, including the challenges of privacy in the digital age. He has also worked on how to best use evidence in public policy making – a perennial challenge.