My research interests are in understanding the role of epigenetics in the relationship between lifestyle (diet, physical activity, etc) and health. Epigenetics refers to molecular changes to genes that don’t affect the genetic code but can affect whether a gene is turned on or off.
Evidence is growing for a role for altered epigenetic marks in the development of a number of chronic diseases. I am particularly interested in one epigenetic mark known as DNA methylation as my recent research has shown that the presence of this mark on some cancer-related genes is associated with the development of bowel cancer. Interestingly, I have shown that methylation of these genes increases during aging in healthy people and that the rate of age-related methylation is affected by gender (men methylate these genes faster than women), obesity and some nutritional factors such as folic acid, vitamin D and selenium. These relationships are consistent with the known effects of these factors on the risk of developing bowel cancer.
My current research is now focussed on understanding how these and other lifestyle factors influence this age-related process in order to provide evidence for lifestyle changes that promote healthy aging and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Nutrition and Cancer 66 (2) p335-41
Publisher’s version: 10.1080/01635581.2014.868914
Nutrition Bulletin 39 (4) p313-321
Epigenomics 6 (2) p239-251
Publisher’s version: 10.2217/epi.14.8.
Colorectal cancer cells Caco-2 and HCT116 resist epigenetic effects of isothiocyanates and selenium in vitro.
European Journal of Nutrition 52 p1327-1341
Publisher’s version: 10.1007/s00394-012-0442-1
Aging Cell 12 (1) p148-155
Publisher’s version: 10.1111/acel.12030
A new systematic review of evidence, published in "The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology", suggests that low levels of vitamin D levels are a consequence of ill health, rather than a cause of it, casting strong doubt on the value of vitamin D supplements.more +
|2008 - present||Career track research leader, Epigenetics, Gut Health and Food Safety ISP, Institute of Food Research, Norwich.|
|2000 - 2008||Senior Postdoctoral Scientist, Gastrointestinal Biology and Health Programme, Institute of Food Research, Norwich.|
|1994 - 2000||Postdoctoral Scientist, Genetics and Microbiology Department, Institute of Food Research, Norwich.|
|1991 - 1994||PhD Studentship, Primalco Biotech, Helsinki, Finland and University of East Anglia, Norwich.|
|1987 - 1991||Research Scientist, Biochemistry Department, Institute of Food Research, Norwich.|
|1995||PhD: The nuclear matrix and gene expression in Trichoderma reesei , University of East Anglia|
BSc: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of East Anglia