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France's highest scientific honor awarded this year to Salk Institute scientist Ronald M. Evans

La Jolla, Calif.- Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., professor and head of the Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, will receive the 2005 Grande Mdaille D'Or (Grand Gold Medal), France's highest scientific honor, for his research discovering how hormones and drugs control the body's metabolism, development and reproduction.

Dr. Evans, the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Lasker Award for Basic Mdical Research, will receive the Grand Gold Medal on Nov. 15, at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris.

Previous award recipients include Louis Pasteur, Pierre and Marie Curie, Gustave Eiffel and Henri Poincare. Nobel laureate and theoretical physicist David Gross of University of California at Santa Barbara was awarded the prize last year.

A faculty member at Salk since 1978, Dr. Evans is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and holds the Salk Institute's March of Dimes Chair in Developmental and Molecular Biology.

In 1985 Dr. Evans discovered the first blueprint of a series of genetic switches, known as receptors, that are able to control how the body uses sugar and fat. This blueprint led to the isolation of 48 related switches known as a genetic superfamily. These switches are triggered by various hormones and nutrients including vitamins A and D, testosterone and other sex steroids, cholesterol and certain herbal extracts.

Dr. Evans' and his colleagues' characterization of the function of the receptor family has improved our understanding of the molecular basis of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and syndrome X, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure, heart disease and insulin resistance. Prior to Dr. Evans' research, it was not realized that fat-soluble steroid hormones and dietary fats would use a common strategy to communicate to genes inside a cell's nucleus. They all rely on receptor molecules inside the cell's nucleus that function as on/off switches for genes as s
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Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
yarbrough@salk.edu
858-453-4100 x 1290
Salk Institute
12-Jul-2005


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