James David Adams

James David Adams, PhD

Associate Professor

Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical SciencesCurriculum Vitae

Research Topics

California medicinal plants

Contact Information

  • Web Site
  • jadams@usc.edu
  • 1985 Zonal Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9121
  • PSC 716
  • (323) 442-1362
  • (323) 442-1681


1981 PhD, University of California-San Francisco

James David Adams

Research Interest

I am interested in California medicinal plants and learned for 14 years from a Chumash Healer how to use these plants. Having recently discovered new pharmacologically interesting compounds in three different California plants, I am now in the process of further characterizing these compounds. Future work will involve testing these compounds and plant medicines in animal models and clinical trials to find out if they have important medicinal properties. I am interested in pain control, stroke therapy and eczema therapy with California medicinal plants.


Dr. Adams received his PhD from UC San Francisco in 1981 in Pharmacology and Toxicology. His postdoctoral experience was at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He served as a research assistant professor at Washington State University before coming to USC School of Pharmacy in 1987.

Dr. Adams has worked on cytochrome P450 metabolism of ketamine, phencyclidine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the laboratories of Neal Castagnoli, Anthony Trevor and Don Jerina. Under the direction of Jerry Mitchell, Dr. Adams developed a widely used assay for GSH and GSSG and showed how GSH and GSSG levels change during oxidative stress in many organs.

In collaboration with Enrique Cadenas, Dr. Adams discovered the mechanism of redox cycling of MPTP, the toxic agent that can produce Parkinson's disease in humans and animals. In collaboration with Jean Shih, Dr. Adams showed that MAO knockout mice are resistant to MPTP toxicity.

Lori Klaidman and Dr. Adams developed a widely used assay for NADPH, NADP, NADH and NAD. In collaboration with Pak Chan at Stanford, Dr. Adams' lab demonstrated that DNA is a primary and early target of oxygen radicals during stroke and Parkinson's disease. DNA damage leads to apoptosis and necrosis. His lab demonstrated that DNA damage can be mitigated by treatment with nicotinamide, a precursor for NAD.

Dr. Adams's lab holds the patent for use of nicotinamide (vitamin B3) to treat stroke and other forms of neurodegeneration. He has written over 160 publications, six books and 60 abstracts.

Dr. Adams is currently working on California medicinal plants. He was trained for many years by Chumash people and is a Traditional Healer. He has written many books and articles on Traditional Healing.

Selected Projects/Publications

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