Ronald M. Evans, PhD

Dr. Ronald M. Evans is known for his discovery of the superfamily of genes encoding nuclear hormone receptors and the elucidation of a unified signaling transduction pathway that governs how lipophilic hormones and drugs regulate virtually every developmental and metabolic pathway in animals and humans. It has provided a direct blueprint for the discovery of new drugs for cancer, diabetes and bone disease.
He obtained his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1974 and, after postdoctoral research at the Rockefeller University, he joined of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1977. There he is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory. He holds the March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology.
Dr. Evans studies the mechanisms through which steroids, vitamins A and D, and thyroid hormones regulate gene expression to control fundamental aspects of physiology including sugar, salt and fat metabolism, basal metabolic rate and reproduction. In 1985 his group cloned and characterized the first nuclear hormone receptor, the human glucocorticoid receptor, and subsequently established the unexpected existence of a nuclear receptor superfamily. This work led to the principles of DNA recognition, receptor heterodimer formation, and the discovery of the DNA code for hormone response. The unexpected discovery of the so-called "orphan" receptors opened up new areas of physiology resulting in the identification of the first orphan ligands, many of which are simple metabolic products of common dietary lipids such as cholesterol and free fatty acids. These discoveries have led to a series of new drugs for diseases such as cancer, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Dr. Evans has received numerous awards, most recently: the Fred Koch Award from the Society for Endocrinology (1999), the First Bristol-Myers Squibb Award in Metabolic Research (2000), City of Medicine Award from Duke University (2002), the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Medal, the Keio Medical Science Prize (2003), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (2004) and the "Grand Medaille" (2005), the highest honor of the French National Academy.
He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, was named the 1994 California Scientist of the Year by the California Museum of Science and Industry and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997 and the Institutes of Medicine in 2003. He is listed by the Institute of Scientific Information as one of the 10 most cited scientists of the past two decades.