Ronald M. Evans, PhD

Ronald M. Evans, PhD
Professor and Director, Gene Expression Laboratory; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology; Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California

Ronald M. Evans, PhD | Class of 2014

A renowned authority on hormones and their role in disease, Dr. Evans has conducted research that has led to the discovery of nearly 50 nuclear hormone receptors. These receptors function by binding to an activating molecule and subsequently translocating to the cell’s nucleus to elicit target gene activation or inhibition. Aberrations in the behavior of these proteins have been linked to conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, breast and prostate cancer, and leukemia.

Dr. Evans has devoted his career to investigating the physiological and molecular genetic drivers of muscle performance, metabolic disease, inflammation, and cancer. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University, he studied how cells control gene expression. Of particular interest to Dr. Evans was how the gene encoding growth hormone is regulated by steroids and thyroid hormones, a question that led to Dr. Evans’ isolation of the glucocorticoid receptor.

Recently, Dr. Evans’ laboratory has identified two critical transcription factors that control the utilization and/or storage of lipids, PPARγ and PPARδ. PPARγ promotes lipid uptake from the blood and subsequently stores these molecules within adipose cells, while PPARδ regulates how muscle burns fat. When kept on a high-fat diet, mice that lack PPARδ are predisposed to obesity. Conversely, mice that are genetically engineered to produce an overactive version of this receptor in their muscle tissue remain sleek and lean. The engineered mice utilize this muscle mass to run twice as far as the non-engineered control mice when placed on a rodent-sized treadmill. For this ability, Dr. Evans has named these mice “marathon mice.”

Career Highlights

​2013-2016  Board of Directors, AACR
2012  Wolf Prize in Medicine
2007  Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research
2006  Harvey Prize, Technicon-Israel Institute of Technology
2006  Canada Gairdner Global Health Award
2005  Grande Médaille, French Academy of Sciences
2005  Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, University of California, Los Angeles
2004  Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award
2003  Keio Medical Science Prize, Keio University, Tokyo
2003  March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology
1999  Fred Conrad Koch Lifetime Achievement Award, The Endocrine Society
1994  California Scientist of the Year
1989  Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
1974  PhD, University of California, Los Angeles