About the Howard Foundation

The Howard Foundation was created in 1982 with the initial aim of funding new buildings at Downing College and biomedical research. Three buildings now enclose the Howard Court at Downing: the Howard Building; the Howard Lodge and the Howard Theatre. These are shown on the Downing Buildings page.  Biomedical research has been funded consistently for over forty years.

Starting in 1982, the Howard Foundation Group owned Cambridge Manufacturing Company Limited, which manufactured and distributed “The Cambridge Diet” throughout the UK and worldwide through a chain of international companies. The company was sold in September 2005 and the purchasers developed the business further. It is now the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan.

Since the early 1990s, the Foundation has sponsored research into nutraceuticals including macular carotenoids, which led to a number of patents. The Publications page describes this research. 

In March 2023, the patent and trade mark portfolio relating to macular carotenoids was sold to Maravilla LLC, a US company formed by the two main business partners: Industrial Organica (IOSA) and Macuhealth.

Dr Alan Howard (left) created the Foundation in 1982 with himself as the chair and his son, Jonathan Howard (right) as secretary. Here, they are photographed outside the Howard Building at Downing College, Cambridge. Photo  ©Tim Rawle


Chair – Julie Lambert

Julie Lambert, née Howard, completed a degree in Physiology and Biochemistry at Southampton University in 1980, and thereafter a Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics in London. Her working life has been spent as a research Dietitian in London and Oxford, and as a state-registered Dietitian at several hospitals in Oxford. From 1996 until her retirement in 2020, she worked as a Senior Dietitian specialising in the treatment of adults with eating disorders. Julie is the Oxfordshire co-ordinator of the Dyspraxia Foundation. Julie joined as a trustee in 2010 and became chair of the Foundation in September 2020, following the death of her father, Dr Alan Howard. She is also a director of Howard Foundation Holdings Limited. On 25 February 2022, Julie was awarded a Foundation Fellowship by Downing College, Cambridge.

David Thurnham

David Thurnham is Emeritus Professor Of Human Nutrition at the University of Ulster and an independent consultant on nutrition. His interests centred on micronutrients, for example the carotenoids, which provide both vitamin A and lutein and play important roles in eye health and immunity. He was the Howard Professor of Human Nutrition at the University for ten years and a senior scientist at the Dunn Nutrition Laboratory in Cambridge prior to that. David joined as a trustee in September 2020.

Anthony Leeds

Anthony Leeds joined as a Trustee in April 2023. He is a medical scientist, recently retired from NHS practice, who continues academic research and teaching through visiting positions in Denmark, Malaysia and Scotland. He has extensive experience of project evaluation and management including audit of milestones and outcomes. He is a director of the All Saints Educational Trust, which awards scholarships and project grants, where he sits on the awards and governance committees.  He was on the academic staff of King’s College London for 30 years where he studied dietary interventions, notably with dietary fibre and low glycaemic index diets, for chronic metabolic disease, and chaired the College research ethics committee for 18 years. He then served as medical director of Cambridge Weight Plan for eleven years helping to facilitate studies on formula low-energy diets in obesity, diabetes, osteoarthritis and other comorbidities.

Alistair Lambert

Alistair, grandson of Alan Howard, joined as a trustee in April 2023 to continue the family connection and bring a commercial perspective as the Foundation moves forward. He graduated from the University of Manchester with a MEng in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. He became Chartered with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 2020 and was granted his APM Project Management Qualification in 2022. Alistair is a Principal Mechanical Design Engineer at WSP, a large International Built Environment Consultancy. He works predominantly on the design of large commercial and residential schemes across the country, leading multidisciplinary teams through the design and construction of a wide breadth of projects.


Secretary – Jonathan Howard

Jonathan Howard, known as Jon, obtained a Law degree at Cambridge University and then qualified as a solicitor, working for over five years in the Leeds office of what is now Eversheds (Solicitors). With his father Dr Alan Howard, he co-founded the Howard Foundation Charitable Trust in 1982 and together they launched the Cambridge Diet in the UK in 1984. Jon served as director of the product’s manufacturing and marketing companies at home and abroad from inception until the Group was sold by Management Buyout in 2005.  Jon was also a parliamentary candidate in 1992, 1994 and 1997. Jon is secretary to the Howard Foundation and a director of Howard Foundation Holdings Limited. Jon was elected a Wilkins Fellow at Downing College on October 2007, and as a Foundation Fellow in February 2022.

Founder – Dr Alan N Howard

Alan Howard was an Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge University and Honorary Professor at the University of Ulster. His career at Cambridge University spanned 50 years and he held positions in the Department of Investigative Medicine and Pathology as well as at the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory, before founding his own laboratory at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, which was closed in 1999. He published over 250 original articles in medical literature and authored and edited 8 major books on coronary heart disease and obesity. He was co-founder of the International Journal of Obesity and was involved in the foundation of the International Congress on Obesity and the European Atherosclerosis Society. His work on obesity led to the development of Very Low Calorie Diets, leading to a number of commercial products including his own formulation of the Cambridge Diet, which has been used by millions of people world-wide. In 1982, he established the Howard Foundation, a charitable trust which has provided three buildings at Downing College, Cambridge, between 1987 and 2009 as well as sponsoring bio-medical research at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. Dr Howard died aged 91 on 24 June 2020.