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John P. Thyfault, Ph.D.


University of Kansas, 2002

Research Focus

Chronic physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, and low aerobic fitness are linked to the development of chronic disease conditions including obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, daily physical activity and maintenance of aerobic fitness throughout the lifespan are associated with protection against chronic disease(s). The mechanism(s) underlying the development of these diseases and the role that activity and fitness status play in altering susceptibility remain largely unknown and are the focus of our research. We utilize integrative (multi-tissue and whole body), translational (cells, rodents, humans) approaches to perform studies in these areas with a focus on clinical or human relevance.

The specific projects ongoing right now are focused on 3 primary areas:

  1. Links between fatty liver, hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction, and low aerobic fitness and the role that hepatic PGC-1a may be playing in this process
  2. Role of hepatic mitochondrial function to impact systemic metabolism and regulation of energy intake and physical activity
  3. Role of physical activity and inactivity to modulate insulin action and glycemic control
  4. Impact of statins to negatively impact the ability of exercise training to improve skeletal muscle mitochondrial content and aerobic fitness


Our research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Current Lab Members

  • Dr. Matthew Morris, Research Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Colin McCoin, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Mrs. Julie Allen, Lab Manager
  • Alex Von Schulze, PhD Student (Co-mentored with Paige Geiger)
  • Adrianna Maurer, PhD Student

Thyfault Lab

Thyfault Lab Summer 2017: Alex Von Schulze, Matt Morris, Adrianna Maurer, Colin McCoin, John Thyfault, Julie Allen

Thyfault Lab 2

Thyfault Lab with Summer 2017 students: Claire Houchen (KINBRE Summer Scholar), Leigh Campbell (Notre Dame Research Scholar), and Chiemela Onyekere (KU Med Student)

Associate Editor for the following journals: 

Highlighted Citations from the Thyfault Lab:

  1. JP Thyfault, RS Rector, GM Uptergrove, SJ Borengasser, EM Morris, Y Wei, MJ Laye, SE Clark, N Qi, C Burant, LG Koch, SL Britton, and JA Ibdah. Rats selectively bred for low aerobic capacity have reduced hepatic mitochondrial oxidative capacity and susceptibility to hepatic steatosis and injury. J Physiol. 2009 Apr 15;587(Pt 8):1805-16.
  2. CR Mikus, DJ Oberlin, JL Libla, LJ Boyle, and JP Thyfault. Glycemic control is improved in free living patients with type 2 diabetes by seven days of exercise training. Diabetologia. 2012 May;55(5):1417-23.
  3. Mikus CR, Boyle LJ, Borengasser SJ, Oberlin DJ, Naples SP, Fletcher J, Meers GM, Ruebel M, Laughlin MH, Dellsperger KC, Fadel PJ, JP Thyfault. Simvastatin impairs exercise training adaptations. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Aug 20;62(8):709-14
  4. Panasevich MR, Morris EM, Chintapalli SV, Wankhade UD, Shankar K, Britton SL, Koch LG, *Thyfault JP, *Rector RS (*co-corresponding authors). Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2016 May 15;310(10):G832-43.
  5. Morris EM, Meers GM, Koch LG, Britton SL, Fletcher JA, Shankar K, Fu X, Burgess SC, Ibdah JA Rector RS, Thyfault JP. Aerobic capacity and hepatic mitochondrial lipid oxidation alters susceptibility for chronic high fat diet induced steatosis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Oct 1:311(4):E749-E760
  6. Rogers RS, Morris EM, Wheatley JL, Archer AE, McCoin CS, White KS, Wilson DR, Meers GM, Koch LG, Britton SL, Thyfault JP, Geiger PC. Deficiency in the heat stress response could underlie susceptibility to metabolic disease. Diabetes 2016 Nov:65(11):3341-3351.
  7. Reynolds LJ, Credeur DP, Manrique C, Padilla J, Fadel PJ, Thyfault JP. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and impaired insulin stimulated blood flow: role of skeletal muscle NO synthase and endothelin 1. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Jan 1:122(1):38-47.2016.
  8. Morris EM, McCoin CS, Allen JA, Gastecki ML, Koch L, Britton SL, Fletcher JA, Fu X, Ding WX, Burgess SC, Rector RS, Thyfault JP. Aerobic capacity mediates susceptibility for the transition from steatosis to steatohepatitis. J Physiol. 2017 Jul 15;595(14):4909-4926.
  9. Thyfault JP, Morris EM. Intrinsic (genetic) aerobic fitness impacts susceptibility for metabolic disease. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2017 Jan:45(1):7-15.
  10. Morris JK, Piccolo BD, Shankar K, Thyfault JP, Adams SH. The serum metabolomics signature of Type 2 Diabetes is obscured in Alzheimer's Disease. AJP Endo and Metab. 2017 [Epub ahead of print].
  11. Booth FW, Roberts CK, Thyfault JP, Ruegsegger GN, Toedebusch RG. Role of inactivity in chronic diseases: evolutionary insight and pathophysiological mechanisms. Physiol Rev. 2017 Oct 1;97(4):1351-1402.

You can see a full list of publications from the Thyfault Lab here.

Last modified: Aug 15, 2018

John Thyfault


John P. Thyfault, Ph.D.

2067 Hemenway
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160

P: P: (913) 588-1790