Dr. Charles Brenner is the Roy J. Carver Chair and Head of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa, as well as a founding co-director of the University of Iowa Obesity Initiative. In 2004, Brenner, then a faculty member at Dartmouth College, discovered nicotinamide riboside (NR) to be a vital precursor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which is made available by nicotinamide riboside kinases (Nrks) that are conserved between yeast and humans. In 2007, Dr. Brenner’s lab discovered a second pathway by which NR is converted to NAD+ and showed that NR can extend the lifespan of yeast cells by virtue of elevating NAD+ levels and increasing the activity of the NAD+-dependent Sir2 enzyme.
In the past decade, Dr. Brenner has made multiple seminal contributions to NAD+ metabolism, which include engineering a yeast strain to convert inexpensive NAD+ precursor vitamins into NR, solving the crystal structure of human Nrk1, developing the methods for quantitative NAD+ metabolomics, and demonstrating the activity of oral NR in animal models of fatty liver disease; obesity; type 2 diabetes; diabetic and chemotherapeutic neuropathy; heart failure; and central brain injury. Dr. Brenner also led the first clinical trial of NR, which established safe oral availability in humans. He is currently focusing on the maternal and neonatal effects of oral NR and translating animal discoveries into evidence-based safe, human clinical practice for human conditions of metabolic stress.