IAB Life Science Hour Seminar Series

Name:William J. Evans
Title:New data on the importance of muscle mass (but not lean mass) on health related outcomes in older people
Date:Friday, 30 October 2020

One of the principal areas of my research has been the examination of the causes of late life disability. In doing so, I have examined the functional and metabolic consequences of physical activity in elderly people as well as how dietary protein and energy needs change with advancing age. My laboratory was the first to describe the condition called sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. Sarcopenia is a multifactorial problem resulting from a number of factors including decreased physical activity, decreased testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormone production, increasing insulin resistance, and poor diet. My research has also demonstrated that older people lose muscle mass and strength far more rapidly than do young people during enforced bed rest. These factors result in an increased risk of disability, falls, hospitalization, and institutionalization. The loss of muscle mass is also a common consequence of many chronic diseases such as cancer, chronic heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Skeletal muscle is remarkably responsive to changes in nutritional status and physical activity. Decreased dietary protein intake can result in a rapid loss of muscle and low protein intake among elderly people may be one cause of sarcopenia. We have also demonstrated that the need for dietary protein increases with advancing age. We have developed a novel, non-invasive method to measure muscle mass in infants, children, and adults using only a single urine sample. Using this method in a large cohort study, we have demonstrated that in elderly men, muscle mass is strongly associated with increased risk of disability, hip fracture, and mortality. We are currently exploring longitudinal changes in functional muscle mass in boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and in geriatric cancer survivors.

About the Speaker:

William J. Evans, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Duke University Medical Center. Following a distinguished career in academia at Tufts University, Penn State University and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Evans was the Vice President of the Muscle Metabolism Discovery Performance Unit at GlaxoSmithKline and then the President of the Muscle and Health Division at KineMed, Inc. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American College of Nutrition, and an honorary member of the American Dietetic Association. He is the author or co-author of more than 250 publications in scientific journals examining the functional and metabolic consequences of physical activity in elderly people as well as dietary protein requirements of older men and women. He received his PhD in Human Bioenergetics from Ball State University.

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Beginning in 1966 and continuing today, IAB hosts a weekly seminar for faculty, students, staff and the public during the academic year. The series attracts life scientists from Alaska and around the world.

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