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Charles Brenner, PhD

Contact Information

Office: 4-403 BSB 
Phone: 319-335-7934 
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research:

The Brenner laboratory discovered nicotinamide riboside (NR) as a novel vitamin precursor of NAD and has been a leading group in identification and characterization of NAD biosynthetic genes, enzymes and transporters.  Current work makes extensive use of NAD metabolomics, NAD chemical biological tools, and animal experiments that probe how elevating NAD biosynthesis can ameliorate diseases and conditions including fatty liver disease and diabetic neuropathy.  We also conducted the first clinical trial, showing that oral NR can safely boost human NAD metabolism. Ongoing experiments are both mechanistic and translational.

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications:

  • P. Bieganowski & C. Brenner, "Discoveries of Nicotinamide Riboside as a Nutrient and Conserved NRK Genes Establish a Preiss-Handler Independent Route to NAD+ in Fungi and Humans," Cell, v. 117, pp. 495-502 (2004).
  • S.A.J. Trammell, B.J.Weidemann, A.Chadda, M.S. Yorek, A. Holmes, L.J.Coppey, A. Obrosov, R.H. Kardon, M.A. Yorek & C. Brenner, “Nicotinamide Riboside Opposes Type 2 Diabetes and Neuropathy in Mice,” Scientific Reports, v. 6, 26933 (2016). DOI: 10.1038/srep26933. 
  • S.A.J Trammell, M.S. Schmidt, B.J. Weidemann, P. Redpath, F. Jaksch, R.W. Dellinger, Z. Li, E.D. Abel, M.E. Migaud & C. Brenner, "Nicotinamide riboside is uniquely and orally bioavailable in mice and humans." Nat Commun. v. 7, pp. 12948 (2016). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12948. 


NAD is the central regulator of metabolism. NAD and its reduced and phosphorylated metabolites are required for fuel oxidation, gluconeogenesis, ketogenesis, and the synthesis of nucleotides, lipids and other essential compounds. NAD is also required for DNA repair, calcium mobilization, and regulation of transcription and mitochondrial functions. The NAD metabolome is challenged by multiple conditions of metabolic stress including alcohol, overnutrition, reactive oxygen species damage, time zone disruption, heart failure, neurodegeneration and aging. Repletion of the NAD metabolome with NAD precursor vitamins such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) is an exciting approach to protect organ function from the ravages of these metabolic stresses. Our laboratory is devoted to determining how the NR kinase pathway is induced by stress conditions and how NAD repletion restores physiological functions.