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Ronald M. Evans, PhD

Ronald M. Evans, PhD

Gene Expression Laboratory
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, California

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

2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University
2017 Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in BioMedical Science, Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2015 Frontiers in Science Award, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
2014 Distinguished Scholar Award, Lustgarten Foundation
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, D.C.
1974 PhD, University of California, Los Angeles