Adam Johnston, PhD

Adam Johnston, PhD

Assistant Professor, Program in Kinesiology, Department of Applied Human Sciences


  • Human physiology
  • Animal models
  • Biochemistry
  • Stem cell biology


  • Cell culture models through to clinical trials
  • Stem cells and tissue regeneration
  • Muscle adaptation to nutritional interventions and exercise
  • Preventative medicine


  • Ergogenic aids and sport supplementation
  • Small molecule screening of compounds
  • Human clinical research
  • Muscle and nervous system repair

Speed skating and basketball fueled Adam Johnston’s early interest in athletics. After growing up in Cape Breton, he needed to decide whether to move to Calgary to train as an Olympic hopeful or enroll at university to study for a career in sports science. He chose to earn a PhD in kinesiology.

Athletes, aging Canadians and everyone in between

Unlike in past decades, kinesiology is no longer about merely training gym teachers. As a faculty member in kinesiology, one of UPEI’s fastest growing programs, Johnston is advancing the field by using cellular and biochemical approaches to understand athletic performance, tissue repair, and how exercise can be used as preventative medicine.

Professional and amateur athletes seek ways to improve their performance and recover faster from injury. Yet, aside from athletes, Johnston also sees his research benefiting seniors and those with metabolic diseases like diabetes. After all, maintaining skeletal muscle is important for regulating functional capacity—the physical capabilities to cope with aging and overall metabolic health.

Broad partnering opportunities

In addition to his research in applied human physiology, Johnston also gained expertise in cellular and molecular techniques from his postdoctoral fellowship at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. He leverages these abilities to collaborate with companies and academic institutions on projects spanning small molecule screening and cell cultures through to animal models and human clinical trials.

Johnston’s eligibility to apply for NSERC ENGAGE funding means he has a growing complement of academic–private projects, which currently includes a large-scale human clinical trial to assess nutritional supplementation and athletic performance.

His additional projects cover: analysis of metabolism; how nutritional intervention and exercise affect protein synthesis and muscle growth in rodents and humans; compounds that may stimulate stem cells to repair tissue; and how the nervous system influences tissue regeneration.

Johnston sees increased demand for this new age of kinesiology research and is encouraged that kinesiology students go on to succeed in varied fields, including health professions, preventative medicine, biosciences, business and beyond. He sees the program feeding research into how to help Canadians heal, become stronger, perform better and prevent chronic diseases.

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