Ronald Evans

Professor and Director

Gene Expression Laboratory

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology

Ronald Evans
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Videos


Salk scientists uncover how high-fat diet drives colorectal cancer growth

A new study led by Salk Institute scientists and published in Cell suggests that high-fat diets fuel colorectal cancer growth by triggering a hormonal signal that lets potentially cancerous cells thrive. The findings could explain why colorectal cancer is being seen in younger people growing up at a time when higher-fat diets are common. Read more »

Salk researchers awarded $2.5 million for innovative pancreatic cancer clinical trial

Salk Professor and HHMI Investigator Ronald Evans has been awarded $2.5 million by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) as part of a multi-institution team to conduct clinical studies to open up a new avenue for immunotherapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. While the cancer normally excludes immune T-cells, the Evans lab discovered that modified vitamin D reprograms the cancer environment in a way that may allow the Merck drug Keytruda® to invade and destroy the tumor. Read more »

“Exercise-in-a-pill” boosts athletic endurance by 70 percent

Every week, there seems to be another story about the health benefits of running. That’s great—but what if you can’t run? For the elderly, obese or otherwise mobility-limited, the rewards of aerobic exercise have long been out of reach.
Read more »

Salk scientists find “secret sauce” for personalized, functional insulin-producing cells

Salk scientists have solved a longstanding problem in the effort to create replacement cells for diabetic patients. The team uncovered a hidden energy switch that, when flipped, powers up pancreatic cells to respond to glucose, a step that eluded previous research. The result is the production of hundreds of millions of lab-produced human beta cells—able to relieve diabetes in mice. Read More »

Blocking immune cell treats new type of age-related diabetes

Diabetes is often the result of obesity and poor diet choices, but for some older adults the disease might simply be a consequence of aging. New research has discovered that diabetes—or insulin resistance—in aged, lean mice has a different cellular cause than the diabetes that results from weight gain (type 2). And the findings point toward a possible cure for what the co-leading scientists, Ronald Evans and Ye Zheng, are now calling a new kind of diabetes (type 4).
Read more »

Fexaramine Tricks Mice Into Losing Weight

“Imaginary meal” tricks the body into losing weight

Salk scientists made a more effective diet pill.

Salk researchers have developed an entirely new type of pill that tricks the body into thinking it has consumed calories, causing it to burn fat. The compound effectively stopped weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar and minimized inflammation in mice, making it an excellent candidate for a rapid transition into human clinical trials.
Read more »

Vitamin D Derivative Helps Destroy Pancreatic Tumors

Salk scientists find that a vitamin D-derivative makes tumors vulnerable to chemotherapy.

A synthetic derivative of vitamin D was found by Salk Institute researchers to collapse the barrier of cells shielding pancreatic tumors, making this seemingly impenetrable cancer much more susceptible to therapeutic drugs.
Read more »

Discovery of Molecule’s Role May Lead to a Diabetes Cure

Treatment reverses symptoms of type 2 diabetes in mice without side effects.

In mice with diet-induced diabetes—the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans—a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days. The discovery by Salk scientists, published today in the journal Nature, could lead to a new generation of safer, more effective diabetes drugs.
Read more »


BA, Bacteriology, University of California, Los Angeles
PhD, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Los Angeles
Postdoctoral Fellow, Rockefeller University

Awards & Honors

  • 2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
  • 2018 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2013 Dale Medal, Society for Endocrinology, UK
  • 2012 Wolf Prize in Medicine
  • 2007 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research
  • 2006 Harvey Prize in Human Health
  • 2005 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal
  • 2005 Grande Médaille D'Or of France
  • 2004 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
  • 2003 National Academy of Medicine
  • 1997 Institute for Scientific Information most cited researcher
  • 1994 California Scientist of the Year
  • 1989 National Academy of Sciences
  • 1985 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator