Professor Hilary Powers
Head of the Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sheffield
Professor Hilary Powers began her career in Human Nutrition with a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, following which she joined the scientific staff of the MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit, Cambridge. There she 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. She joined the University of Sheffield in 1989 in order to help to establish the Human Nutrition Unit, and postgraduate courses in Human Nutrition; later becoming Head of Unit in 2000.
Professor Powers’ research interests focus on the role of micronutrients in the pathophysiology of human disease, including cancer. She 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. She also has an active interest in developing functional biomarkers of micronutrient status.
Over the years Professor Powers has 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. She 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. She is a project board member for the national diet and nutrition surveys (NDNS) and a member of the Government Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).
Her 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