Dr Bernard M Corfe BSc PhD

Senior Lecturer in Oncology
Principal Investigator in Molecular Gastroenterology
Fellow of Insigneo

Molecular Gastroenterology Research GroupDr Bernard Corfe
Academic Unit of Surgical Oncology
Department of Oncology & Metabolism
The Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Office: GU28

Tel: +44 (0)114 215 9044
Fax: +44 (0)114 271 3314
Email: b.m.corfe@sheffield.ac.uk

Secretary: Daniele Swain
Tel : +44 (0)114 215 9667
Email:  d.m.swain@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the University of Sheffield as a lecturer in 2002 following training in molecular pharmacology. My research training was in microbial molecular biology and my first postdoc was in Sheffield with Professor Anne Moir in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. I subsequently worked with Professor Caroline Dive in Manchester, studying the regulation of apoptosis in response to chemotherapeutic drugs. It was through this research that I became interested in the regulation of apoptosis by butyrate.

Research Interests

Work in my group examines the relationship between diet, short-chain fatty acid production and metabolism and cell fate in the normal and neoplastic colon. A detailed summary is found on my Research Page .
Butyrate and cell fate determination: Butyrate is of particular interest as it is described as an inhibitor of histone deacetylases – (although we disagree with this: Corfe, 2012) is in clinical trials or clinical use, yet it is also a fermentation product of the gut microbiome present at pharmacologically active concentrations in the normal healthy colon lumen. It has been implicated as a mechanism for cancer prevention by fibre. A growing literature recognises protein acetylation as a regulatory mechanism comparable with phosphorylation. My group studies the transcription factor Sp1 (Chirakkal et al., 2006; Waby et al., 2010, Yu et al., 2010) and the cytoskeletal proteins keratin 8, 18 and 19 (Leech et al., 2008; Corfe et al., 2015; Evans et al., 2015) all of whose functions are controlled, inter alia, by acetylation.

Computational and Mathematical Modelling of the Colon: We have noted changes in the composition of cell types in the colon crypt in response to butyrate and to neoplasia (Yu et al., 2011) and we have developed fully semantic mathematical models to examine crypt cell fate determination (Smallbone & Corfe, 2014). We have extended into computational modelling in collaboration with Dawn Walker, and have developed novel agent-based models of the crypt and gut (Ingham Dempster et al., 2017).

Diet, Nutrition and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS is a prevalent, complex, multifactorial and under-funded / under-researched condition. My team are actively investigating the potential of nutrients in management of IBS, particularly vitamin D (Tazzyman et al., 2015; Sprake et al., 2012).

Appetite Biology: Regulation of intake is controlled at least in part by colon-released anorexigenic hormones, and we have a long-standing interest in reationships between diet, enteroendocrine cells and appetite and energy intake. A body of our work is involved in mythbusting the relationships (Holt et al., 2016), as well as developing new approaches to research in this area (Harden et al., 2012).

Teaching Interests

I developed and lead Literature Review module for MSc Translational Oncology. I lead an In silico Oncology submodule for the MSc in Translational Oncology and I deliver the bioinformatics components of the cross-Faculty DDP in Proteomics-Informatics.
I previously developed and led the Literature Review Module in the MMedSci in Human Nutrition (2011), I developed and led the Research Skills Module (in 2011), which si used on Translational Oncology and Human nutrition, I developed and led the Molecular Nutrition Module (in 2008). Previously I led the Clinical Nutrition Module (in 2002) in the MMedSci in Human Nutrition.

I run a course for The Nutrition Society on Scientific Writing.

Professional Activities

Editorial Board Member for Molecular Physiology and Cell Signalling, European Journal of Nutrition.

Scientific Theme Leader, Cellular and Molecular Nutrition, Nutrition Society.
Organiser of CPD accredited conferences on Diet and Microbiome2013 ; Diet and Mental Health, 2016; Diet and Cancer Survivorship, 2017
Member of the Training and Education Committee, Nutrition Society.
Training courses in Bioinformatics for Proteomics, Scientific Writing

Member of Steering Committee and Workstream Lead, NIHR Cancer and Nutrition Infrastructure Collaboration.
Associate Editor, International Journal of Experimental Pathology.
Associate Editor, Nutrition & Cancer.
Associate Editor, Journal of Integrated OMICS.

Consulted for: INSERM, Norgine Ltd.

Manuscript reviewer for: Gut, Oncogene, Journal of Proteome Research, American Journal of Physiology, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, British Journal of Pharmacology, Nutrition and Cancer, Diversity, Clinical Biochemistry, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Cell Death and Differentiation, Nutrition Journal, British Journal of Cancer, International Journal of Cancer.

Grant reviewer for: BBSRC, MRC, AICR, Tenovus, WCRF.

Current Projects

See also my group website

EPSRC PhD Studentship. Systems modelling of the effect of short-chain fatty acids on tubulin isoforms and cytoskeletal integrity. Steve Wilkinson [PI], Bernard Corfe.

Bardhan Research and Education Trust. Expression and acetylation of keratins 8 and 18 in colonic mucosa of patients with Ulcerative Colitis: role in pathogenesis of colitis-associated colorectal neoplasia and dysplasia. Alan Lobo [PI], Bernard Corfe, Debrata Majumdar - £22,000.

Obsidian Ltd/Welsh Assembly/Cardiff University: Metagenomic analysis of alteration in gut microflora in response to probiotics.

Key Publications

1. Ingham-Dempster, T., Walker, D.C. & Corfe B.M. (2017) An agent-based model of anoikis in the colon crypt displays novel emergent behaviour consistent with biological observations. Royal Society Open Science, 4: : 160858

2. Holt, G. M., Owen, L. J., Till, S., Cheng, Y., Grant, V. A., Harden, C. J., & Corfe, B. M. (2016). Systematic Literature Review Shows That Appetite Rating Does Not Predict Energy Intake.. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. doi:10.1080/10408398.2016.1246414

3. Kilner, J., Corfe, B. M., McAuley, M. T., & Wilkinson, S. J. (2016). A deterministic oscillatory model of microtubule growth and shrinkage for differential actions of short chain fatty acids. Molecular BioSystems, 12(1), 93-101. doi:10.1039/C5MB00211G
4. Tazzyman, S., Richards, N., Trueman, A. R., Evans, A. L., Grant, V. A., Garaiova, I., . . . Corfe, B. M. (2015). Vitamin D associates with improved quality of life in participants with irritable bowel syndrome: outcomes from a pilot trial. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2. doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2015-000052

5. Corfe, B. M., Majumdar, D., Assadsangabi, A., Marsh, A. M. R., Cross, S. S., Connolly, J. B., . . . Lobo, A. J. (2015). Inflammation decreases keratin level in ulcerative colitis; inadequate restoration associates with increased risk of colitis-associated cancer. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2. doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2014-000024

6. Evans, C. A., Rosser, R., Waby, J. S., Noirel, J., Wright, P. C., Williams, E. A., . . . Corfe, B. M. (2015). Reduced keratin expression in colorectal neoplasia and associated fields is reversible by diet and resection. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, (2). doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2014-000022

7. Carding, S., Verbeke, K., Vipond, D. T., Corfe, B. M., & Owen, L. J. (2015). Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease. Microbial Ecology in Health & Disease, 26(0). doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26191

8. Smallbone, K., & Corfe, B. M. (2014). A mathematical model of the colon crypt capturing compositional dynamic interactions between cell types. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 95(1), 1-7. doi:10.1111/iep.12062

9. Corfe, B. M. (2012). Hypothesis: butyrate is not an HDAC inhibitor, but a product inhibitor of deacetylation. Molecular BioSystems, 8(6), 1609.

10. Harden, C. J., Perez-Carrion, K., Babakordi, Z., Plummer, S. F., Hepburn, N., Barker, M. E., . . . Corfe, B. M. (2012). Evaluation of the salivary proteome as a surrogate tissue for systems biology approaches to understanding appetite. Journal of Proteomics, 75(10), 2916-2923