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Dr Julian Huppert

Fellow, Director of the Intellectual Forum

Julian Huppert is the Director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus. He is a former MP and University Lecturer in Physics.

Academic interests

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.

Degrees obtained

•    MA, Cantab.
•    MSci, Cantab.
•    PhD, Cantab.


Julian joined Jesus College in 2016. Prior to that he held a University Lectureship in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, having previously held an RCUK Academic Fellowship and a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge.

He served as the Member of Parliament for Cambridge between 2010 and 2015, and was the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities. Among various awards, he was named ISPA Internet Hero of the Year in 2013 for his work in ending the so-called Snooper’s Charter, and was also elected as Parliamentary Beard of the Year in 2013.

In addition to his work in the College, he is Vice-Chair of the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, a Director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, and a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London. He also served as Chair of the Panel of Independent Reviewers for DeepMind Health.

Other interests

Cycling, hiking, health, music and ideas!

Publications, links and resources

  • Huppert, J.L. and Balasubramanian, S., 2005. Prevalence of quadruplexes in the human genome. Nucleic Acids Research, 33(9), pp.2908-2916.
  • Huppert, J.L. and Balasubramanian, S., 2007. G-quadruplexes in promoters throughout the human genome. Nucleic Acids Research, 35(2), pp.406-413.
  • The ENCODE Project Consortium, 2007. Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project. Nature, 447(7146), pp.799-816.
  • Kumari, S., Bugaut, A., Huppert, J.L. and Balasubramanian, S., 2007. An RNA G-quadruplex in the 5′ UTR of the NRAS proto-oncogene modulates translation. Nature Chemical Biology, 3(4), pp.218-221.
  • Huppert, J.L., 2008. Four-stranded nucleic acids: structure, function and targeting of G-quadruplexes. Chemical Society Reviews, 37(7), pp.1375-1384.
  • Neaves, K.J., Huppert, J.L., Henderson, R.M. and Edwardson, J.M., 2009. Direct visualization of G-quadruplexes in DNA using atomic force microscopy. Nucleic Acids Research, 37(18), pp.6269-6275.
  • Calvo, R.A., Peters, D., Huppert, J.L. and Goggin, G., 2018. Human Computer Interaction as social policy making: the case for digital rights, proceedings of OZCHI 2018.
  • Howarth, D.R., Marteau, T.M., Coutts, A.P., Huppert, J.L. and Ramos Pinto, P., 2019. What do the British Public think of inequality in health, wealth, and power? Social Science and Medicine 222, pp.198-206.

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