Professor Hilary J Powers BSc, PhD, RNutr

Hilary Powers

Department of Oncology & Metabolism
Human Nutrition Unit
The University of Sheffield Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Office: GU21
Tel: +44 (0) 114 215 9022
Fax: +44 (0) 114 271 3314



I began my career in Human Nutrition with a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, following which I joined the scientific staff of the MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit, Cambridge. There I undertook research into micronutrient metabolism and the functional effects of inadequate intakes; some of this work was carried out in West Africa and has had relevance for optimum nutrition in developing countries. I joined the University of Sheffield in 1989 in order to help to establish the Human Nutrition Unit, and postgraduate courses in Human Nutrition. I became Head of Unit in 2000.

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the role of micronutrients in the pathophysiology of human disease, including cancer. I use cell culture systems, ex vivo systems and human intervention trials to address specific hypotheses relating nutrient activity with molecular, biochemical or cellular function relevant to carcinogenesis and other pathologies. I also have an active interest in developing functional biomarkers of micronutrient status.

Teaching Interests

I have taught nutritional biochemistry at a postgraduate level for over 20 years, currently as a module leader on the MMedSci degree in Human Nutrition, which we established in Sheffield in 1989. I contribute to the biochemistry teaching for the MBChB course, I also teach on the BDS course. Together with Professor Catherine Geissler, I have developed and now edit Human Nutrition, a leading Human Nutrition textbook with an international readership, published by Elsevier. We have also written a condensed version of this textbook, Fundamentals of Human Nutrition, by the same publisher.

Professional Activities

Over the years I have been involved in many activities in the nutrition community, including being editor of Nutrition Research Reviews, member of the Standing Committee on Nutrition for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, member of the board of studies of London University, and Council member of the Nutrition Society. I was a member of the Expert Panel for the AICR/WCRF Report into Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer, the most thorough and authoritative report in this field. Current activities include sitting on a steering committee for the BBSRC and chairing a grant panel for AICR/WCRF. I am a project board member for the national diet and nutrition surveys (NDNS) and a member of the Government Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).

Current Projects

Current research questions include:

The role of folate in HPV persistence and cervical cancer risk

The role of riboflavin in determining cell fate

Urinary methylmalonic acid as a functional biomarker of vitamin B12 status

Folate/MTHFR gene interactions in breast cancer

Key Publications

Duthie SJ, Horgan G, deRoos B, Ruckidge G, Pirie L, Basten GP, Powers HJ. Blood folate status and expression of proteins involved in immune function, inflammation and coagulation: biochemical and proteomic changes in the plasma of humans in response to folic acid supplementation. Journal of Proteomic Research (in press)

Flatley JE, McNeir K, Balasubramani L, Tidy J, Stuart EL, Young TA, Powers HJ. Folate status and aberrant DNA methylation are associated with HPV infection and cervical pathogenesis. Cancer Epidem Biom Prev 2009 Oct; 18(10): 2782-9

Mushtaq S, Su H, Jill MH, Powers HJ. Erythrocyte pyridoxamine phosphate oxidase activity: potential biomarker of riboflavin status? Amer J Clin Nutr 2009 Nov; 90 (5): 1151-9

Powers HJ, Hill MH, Welfare M, Spiers A, Bal W, Russell J, Duckworth Y, Gibney E, Williams EA, Mathers JC Responses of biomarkers of folate and riboflavin status to folate and riboflavin supplementation in healthy and colorectal polyp patients (the FAB2 Study). Cancer Epidem Biomark Prevent 2007; 16(10): 2128-35

Basten GP, Duthie SJ, Pirie L, Vaughan N, Hill MH, Powers HJ. Sensitivity of markers of DNA stability and DNA repair activity to folate supplementation in healthy volunteers. Brit J Cancer 2006 Jun 19; 94(12): 1942-7

Nakano E, Taiwo FA, Nugent D, Griffiths HR, Aldred S, Paisi M, Kwok M, Bhatt P, Hill MH, Moat S, Powers HJ. Downstream effects on human low density lipoprotein of homocysteine exported from endothelial cells in an in vitro system. J Lipid Res. 2005 Mar;46(3):484-93

Nakano E, Williamson MP, Williams NH, Powers HJ. Copper-mediated LDL oxidation by homocysteine and related compounds depends largely on copper ligation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jan 20;1688(1):33-42

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