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, an interdisciplinary centre focused on bringing people to think and talk about some of the key issues of our time. 

Julian trained as a bioscientist before becoming MP for Cambridge between 2010 and 2015. He has a wide set of interests, ranging from medtech and edtech to AI ethics and government, sustainable finance to policy-making, and above all, seeing to build a Generous Society.

Degrees obtained

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


Julian studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, completing a PhD in Biological Chemistry in 2005 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. These are important as anti-cancer drug targets. He secured a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, was a Research Councils UK Academic Fellow, and held a University Lectureship in the Cavendish Laboratory.

Julian has also been involved in politics, serving as a County Councillor in Cambridgeshire, and then as Member of Parliament for Cambridge. He was the Lib Dem Spokesperson on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities, and was heavily involved in the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Act. As an MP,. he was particularly noted for his work on civil liberties, science, cycling, and technology policy, winning awards ranging from being named ISPA ‘Internet Hero of the Year’ to Parliamentary Beard of the Year. 

In 2016 Julian was appointed the Founding Director of the Intellectual Forum in Jesus College.

He was Deputy Chair of the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, overseeing £1.8 billion of annual expenditure. He continues as Chair of the Ethics Committee for NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and as a Non-Executive Director of Health Innovation East.

He is a Director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, and has a Ministerial appointment to the Home Office Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group, where he chairs the AI Ethics Working Group. He has also advised a range of technology companies about ethics and governance, including being Founding Chair of the Independent Panel of Reviewers of DeepMind Health. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, King's College, London, and the Centre for Social Impact, University of New South Wales.

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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