Professor Jessica Downs studied for her PhD at the Gurdon Institute at Cambridge University, followed by postdoctoral research training in Professor Steve Jackson's lab at Cambridge University. It was here that she developed her interest in understanding the impact of chromatin structure and epigenetic regulation on DNA damage responses and the maintenance of genome stability.
In 2002, she was awarded the Jenner Fellowship from the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, which she used to establish her own research lab in the Biochemistry Department at Cambridge University. The lab moved to the Medical Research Council Genome Damage and Stability Centre at the University of Sussex in 2007 and stayed there until its relocation to The Institute of Cancer Research, London in 2016. Professor Downs and her team study the dynamic interplay between chromatin structure and genome stability, with a view to understanding how epigenetic regulation functions to help prevent tumourigenesis.