Adam was born in Newmill, a hamlet about one kilometer north of Keith. He attended Keith Grammar School and then earned a bachelor 's degree in biochemistry and a master's degree in pharmacology from the University of Aberdeen. After he had served three years in the quality control of the pharmaceutical company Glaxo in Montrose, Adam worked until his election to the Scottish Parliament at two hospitals, first in Aberdeen City Hospital and then at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Adam was married and the father of five children. He lived in Aberdeen, was an active member of the Mormon church and supporters of the football club FC Aberdeen. In the night of April 25, 2013 Adam succumbed to the effects of long-term cancer. As a result, Adams was honored political life's work across party lines. Brian Adam was buried in Aberdeen.
1988 Adam was selected for Middlefield in the district council of Aberdeen and confirmed in 1992. In 1995 he then moved to Middlefield and Heathryfold in the Aberdeen City Council. He first joined the General Election 1997 elections at the national level. In his constituency Aberdeen North, however, Adam was 21.8 % only the second-largest share of votes behind the Labour candidate Malcolm Savidge ( 47.9 % ) and thus failed to reach the British House of Commons clearly.
In the first elections to the newly established Scottish Parliament in 1999, Adam ran as candidate for the SNP in the constituency Aberdeen North, which was congruent with the same constituency for the House of Commons, where he was two years earlier competed unsuccessfully. He defeated the Labour politician Elaine Thomson and thus missed the direct mandate. Compared to the previous general election Adam but it succeeded the vote lead the Labour Party in the constituency of about 10,000 to 398 lower. Since Adam was placed next to his direct candidacy in Aberdeen North as a list candidate in third place of the Regional Evaluation of the SNP for choosing North East Scotland, he moved as a result of the election result as one of seven representatives of the constituency in the Scottish Parliament a. In the following elections for the second term Adam finally won the direct mandate for Aberdeen North by a margin of 457 votes to Thomson and defended it in the elections in 2007. During the constituency reform of 2011, the constituency Aberdeen North was dissolved. At the parliamentary elections of 2011, Adam therefore applied for the direct mandate of the newly created constituency of Aberdeen Donside, had gone up in the large parts of his former constituency. He won the mandate with a vote share of 55.4 %, which is well ahead of the Labour candidate Barney Crockett, who was able to record 28.5% of the vote.
In the shadow cabinet of SNP after the parliamentary elections in 2003 Brian Adam was initially intended as Deputy Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning. After a changeover in September 2004, then as deputy tourism minister. After the parliamentary elections in 2007 Adam was appointed Whip the SNP Group in the Scottish Parliament and guided them through a difficult legislative session in which the party alone resulted in a minority government with a share of around 36 % of the seats. Already in the first term Adam held the position of Deputy Whip. Following the 2011 parliamentary elections, Adam was appointed Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs under the Minister Bruce Crawford. In September 2012, Adam gave up his post Joe FitzPatrick. In the constituency Aberdeen Donside, in which Brian Adam held the direct mandate, elections to determine a successor after his death were as prescribed in such cases, necessary. This far, no date has been set.