John S. Adams, M.D.

John S. Adams, M.D. 

Associate Director, UCLA Alpha Stem Cell Clinic; Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center; Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of Research, Orthopaedic Surgery; Professor, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology


John S. Adams, M.D., is the founding director of the UCLA-UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic (ASCC), which is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). One of five CIRM-funded stem cell clinics in California, the UCLA-UCI ASCC is a partnership with University of California, Irvine that provides world-class, state-of-the-art infrastructure to accelerate and support stem cell clinical trials and the delivery of stem cell therapies to patients. The UCLA-UCI ASCC is the first-of-its-kind cross-institutional “center of excellence” attracting a diverse patient base in Los Angeles and Orange counties that together constitute about 34 percent of the total California population and 12 percent of the total U.S. population.  

As director of the UCLA-UCI ASCC, Adams leads a team that removes roadblocks and accelerates stem cell clinical trials by providing assistance in fulfilling critical Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory requirements. These requirements include filing investigational new drug (IND) and investigational device exemption (IDE) applications, identifying potential subject populations using tools developed by the UCLA Health Enterprise and the National Institutes of Health-supported UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute. The ASCC also provides resources to ensure cell manufacturing meets strict FDA conditions. Under Adams’ leadership, the UCLA-UCI ASCC has expanded its number of active and in development clinical trials from five to 30.

Adams’ translational research focuses on how vitamin D regulates the human skeletal and immune systems. He discovered that vitamin D plays an essential role in the body’s fight against infections such as tuberculosis, a lung disease that causes an estimated 1.8 million deaths annually worldwide. Adams is now working to initiate clinical trials to learn whether new methods of vitamin D supplementation can enhance the body’s resistance to infections and skeletal fragility (e.g., osteoporosis).

As director of the UCLA Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center, Adams brings together multidisciplinary teams of scientists — including experts in molecular and stem cell biology, biomedical engineering, and materials science — and clinicians to develop novel means of regenerating bone and joint tissue in adults and children. This regenerative process is supported by stem cells in the bone marrow, called skeletal stem cells, which give rise to a variety of cells: bone cells (osteoblasts and osteocytes), cartilage cells (chondrocytes), fat cells (adipocytes), and stromal cells that support blood formation. As people age, skeletal stem cells produce fewer bone cells and more fat cells, resulting in brittle bones that are prone to fracture. Adams studies the genetic processes by which skeletal stem cells are driven to form bone, not fat, in order to inform the development of therapies that can increase bone cell production and prevent osteoporosis.

Adams earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center and completed fellowships in endocrinology and internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.


Honors & Affiliations


  • Distinguished Professor, University of California, 2014
  • Boy Frame Award for Clinical Excellence in Bone and Mineral Metabolism, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 2005
  • Elected member, Association of American Physicians, 2002
  • Elected member, American Society for Clinical Investigation, 1990


  • Associate Director, UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute
  • Editorial board, Bone Research
  • Editorial board, Journal of the Endocrine Society
  • Consulting editorial board, Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • Endocrine Society
  • American Society of Bone and Mineral Research
  • Orthopedic Research Society


Adams’ research is funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


The UCLA-UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic
Dr. John Adams is program director of the UCLA-UCI Alpha Stem Cell Clinic. In this video, he discusses how the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinic Network provides hands-on help and infrastructure to move novel stem cell-based therapies to patients in the form of safe and scientifically rigorous clinical trials.