Molecular Physiology & Epigentics

Our research group investigates if skeletal muscle possesses a 'memory' within its DNA (in the form of epigenetic imprints) after exercise, and after muscle growth or wasting. We also investigate how novel molecules affect skeletal muscle growth and loss.

Research statement

We were the first research group internationally to show human skeletal muscle possesses an epigenetic memory of muscle growth (hypertrophy) after exercise.

We use various cutting-edge methods in our laboratories to do these investigations, including; research of exercise and disuse in humans and the use of muscle stem cells cultured from tissue biopsies made into tissue engineered 3D mini-muscles in culture. We also use cutting edge cell and molecular biology techniques including multi ‘OMIC’ analysis (across the entire genome).

Current Externally Funded Projects

We currently have 10 million NOK funding from the Research Council of Norway for our research group to investigate if human muscle remembers periods of wasting. The research also will identify key targets and strategies (gene therapies tested in model systems) to help the elderly recover from muscle wasting (due to an injury, or hospitalisation) and prevent muscle wasting elderly individuals encounter another injury in the future.

Key publication

Human Skeletal Muscle Possesses an Epigenetic Memory of Hypertrophy 

Ranked 1st: The paper 'Human Skeletal Muscle Possesses an Epigenetic Memory of Hypertrophy,’ has achieved international recognition and has been cited almost 200 times and downloaded 87K times since its publication in 2018. The paper was the editor's choice in epigenetics, and ranked 1st in all Cell/Molecular Biology articles (out of 664 papers) and the 6th of ALL articles (out of 18,000) in 2018 in the Nature Journal, Scientific Reports. As a result, a video of the work was created on Nature’s YouTube channel (Link) and this video has been viewed almost 200K times on twitter.

For other publications see overview on:

SharplesMuscleLab or Researchgate

Current Collaborations & Projects

  • Professors Truls Raastad and Olivier Seynnes at NIH, Norway - the muscle physiology and cell/molecular biology of repeated muscle loss in humans and epigenetic memory of steroids.
  • Dr. Tormod Nilsen at NIH, Norway - the epigenetics of exercise in breast cancer survivors.
  • Professor Sue Bodine and Dr. David Hughes (Assistant Research Professor) The University of Iowa, USA- investigating a gene called UBR5 that the research group previously demonstrated was a muscle ‘memory’ gene, and now in collaboration have identified UBR5 is important in protein synthesis and degradation in regulating skeletal muscle mass.
  • Dr. Simone Porcelli at the University of Padua, Italy - an epigenetic memory of high intensity exercise in humans. 
  • Dr. Michael Roberts - University of Auburn, USA - the epigenetic response to resistance exercise in humans.
  • Dr. Jose Areta - Liverpool John Moores University, UK - epigenetics of energy availability and exercise in human skeletal muscle.
  • Dr Juha Hulmi - University of Jyväskylä, Finland - interaction between metabolomics and epigenomics in response to exercise stimuli using three-dimensional (3D) tissue engineered muscle in culture.

Contact us

Adam Philip Sharples

Adam Philip Sharples


Phone: +47 23 26 23 03