Ronald Evans, PhD

Professor and Director

Gene Expression Laboratory

March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology

Ronald Evans
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Videos


First immune-evading cells created to treat type 1 diabetes

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute scientists have made a major advance in the pursuit of a safe and effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, an illness that impacts an estimated 1.6 million Americans with a cost of $14.4 billion annually.

Using stem cell technology, Salk researchers generated the first human insulin-producing pancreatic cell clusters able to evade the immune system, as detailed in the journal Nature on August 19, 2020. These “immune shielded” cell clusters controlled blood glucose without immunosuppressive drugs in mice, once transplanted in the body. Read more »

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


Awards & Honors

  • Japan Prize in the field of Medical Science and Pharmaceutical Science, 2024
  • Asan Award in Basic Medicine, 2021
  • NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award, 2020
  • Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, 2018
  • American Association for The Advancement of Science Fellow, 2018
  • Frontiers in Science Award, 2015
  • The Lustgarten Foundation Distinguished Scholar Award, 2014
  • American Association For Cancer Research Fellow, 2014
  • Society for Endocrinology, United Kingdom, Dale Medal, 2013
  • Wolf Foundation, Israel, Wolf Prize In Medicine, 2012
  • Technion University, Israel, Harvey Prize, 2006
  • Gairdner Foundation International Award, 2006
  • “Grande Medaille d’Or” of the French Academy Of Sciences, 2005
  • Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, UCLA, 2005
  • Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, 2004
  • Keio Medical Science Prize, 2003
  • General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Medal, 2003
  • Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2003
  • First Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Metabolic Research, 2000
  • The Endocrine Society Fred Conrad Koch Award, 1999
  • California Museum of Science And Industry and the California Museum Foundation, California Scientist of the Year, 1994
  • National Academy of Sciences Member, 1989