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Christopher Adams, MD, PhD

Contact Information

Office: 4322 PBDB 
Phone: 319-353-5786 
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research:

Our laboratory's research is focused on causes and treatment of skeletal muscle atrophy, a common and debilitating condition that diminishes the health and quality of life of many patients with diabetes. To better understand causes of muscle atrophy, we are investigating how conditions such as diabetes alter muscle gene expression, and how these changes in gene expression cause muscle atrophy. Because a pharmacologic therapy for muscle atrophy does not exist, we are using systems-based strategies to search for a therapy. Thus far, we have discovered several small molecules that inhibit muscle atrophy, including ursolic acid, a natural compound found in apple peels and other edible plant materials. At least some of these small molecules also reduce obesity and blood glucose. We are now pursuing these small molecules as potential therapeutic agents for patients with muscle atrophy, obesity and diabetes.

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications:

  • Kunkel SD, Suneja M, Ebert SM, Bongers KS, Fox DK, Malmberg SE, Alipour F, Shields RK, and Adams CM. mRNA expression signatures of human skeletal muscle atrophy identify a natural compound that increases muscle mass. Cell Metabolism. 13: 627-638, 2011. PMCID: PMC3120768. Reviewed in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 10: 576, 2011.
  • Kunkel SD, Elmore CJ, Bongers KS, Ebert SM, Fox DK, Dyle MC, Bullard SA, and Adams CM. Ursolic acid increases skeletal muscle and brown fat and decreases diet-induced obesity, glucose intolerance and fatty liver disease. PLoS ONE. 7: e39332, 2012. PMCID: PMC3379974.
  • Ebert SM, Dyle MC, Kunkel SD, Bullard SA, Bongers KS, Fox DK, Dierdorff JM, Foster ED, and Adams CM. Stress-induced skeletal muscle Gadd45a expression reprograms myonuclei and causes muscle atrophy. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287: 27290-27301, 2012. PMCID: PMC3431665.