Professor Julia Downing earned her nursing degree from the University of Wales College of Medicine in 1991 followed by a Diploma in Cancer Nursing (1994), a Masters in Medical Science in Clinical Oncology (1997), a Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2000) and her PhD in 2006, completing the first PhD level studies on palliative care in sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Julia Downing currently serves as the Executive Director of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN).
Professor Downing is an experienced palliative care nurse, educationalist, researcher and advocate. She has been working in palliative care for 29 years, with 18 of those pioneering work internationally in Uganda, Africa, Eastern Europe and globally, developing palliative care services for adults and children. Before her executive director role, she held the position of Director of Education and Research for the ICPCN. Over the past 20 years she has worked alongside the World Health Organization on numerous projects in an advisory capacity, currently being part of the Guidelines Development Group on ensuring balance for access to opioids. She has a particular interest in the role of nurses in palliative care and children’s palliative care. In her work globally she tries to encourage and empower nurses, and has led work on leadership in nursing and midwifery in Uganda.
She is an Honorary Professor at Makerere University, Kampala (one of the first two Professors in Palliative Care in sub-Saharan Africa) with extensive experience in research, presenting at conferences and writing for publication and sits on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Palliative Nursing (IJPN), ecancer and Annals of Palliative Medicine. She is a Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and the University of South Wales in the UK and the University of Belgrade in Serbia and also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow with the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, England and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Downing served on the Board of the IAHPC for 8 years and currently serves as an adviser to the board on issues relevant to children and palliative care and nursing. In addition, she also served on the board of several NGOs including the International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), the Worldwide Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), Hospice in the Weald, the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) UK, the Palliative Care Association of Uganda and the Palliative Care Research Society.
In recognition of her accomplishments, Professor Downing has been presented with a number of awards. She was the recipient of the International Journal of Palliative Care Nursing (IJPN’s) Development Award (2006), the Robert Tiffany lectureship from the International Society of Nursing in Cancer Care (ISNCC) (2014), the Pearl Moore “Making a Difference” International Award for Contributions to Cancer Care from the Oncology Nursing Society (2015) and was made an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University in 2016. She has also received recognition awards from the Palliative Care Association of Uganda and APCA.
When not working in palliative care, she is a musician and is involved in running a music school in Kampala, and various local choirs and orchestras. She is also the Director of Music at her local church.