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Ronald Evans to Present Distinguished Lecture

By Eddy Ball
May 2010

Distinguished Lecturer Ronald Evans
Distinguished Lecturer Ronald Evans (Photo courtesy of Ronald Evans and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

The NIEHS Distinguished Lecture Series welcomes Ronald Evans, Ph.D., a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, as its next speaker on May 11. Hosted by Deputy Scientific Director Bill Schrader, Evans will address "Nuclear Hormone Receptors: Biosensors of the Environment" beginning at 1:00 p.m. in Rodbell Auditorium.

Evans( Exit NIEHS directs the Salk Gene Expression Laboratory, where he holds the March of Dimes Chair in Developmental and Molecular Biology and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has a long list of awards in recognition of his research, including the 2004 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

Evans is a pioneer in the molecular biology of the nuclear receptor superfamily. His group has identified and cloned numerous members of this group, including the thyroid hormone receptor and its molecular partner, RXR. This family of receptors includes transcriptional sensors that play a role in the body's storage and burning of fat as well as the development of several kinds of cancer.

Evans' research promises to impact the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of diseases such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. He and his team have extended their bench research to potential clinical application through their recent targeting of the nuclear receptor PPAR-delta.

Evans' group has developed the candidate drug AMPK, which activates this receptor. In experiments using insulin-resistant mice, AMPK dramatically increased exercise endurance, protected against weight gain from a high-fat diet, and improved response to insulin (watch Salk Institute video( Exit NIEHS). These characteristics have led others to view AMPK as a potential "exercise pill" that would augment the value of exercise in maintaining a healthy body weight while lowering fat accumulation.

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