John P. Thyfault, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

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: 

  1. RS Rector*, JP Thyfault* (*Co-First Authors), RT Morris, MJ Laye, SJ Borengasser, FW Booth, JA Ibdah. Daily exercise increases hepatic fatty acid oxidation and prevents steatosis in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty rats. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2008 Mar;294(3):G619-26. Epub 2008 Jan 3
  2. JP Thyfault. Setting the stage: Possible mechanisms by which acute contraction restores insulin sensitivity in muscle. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Apr;294(4):R1103-10
  3. MJ Laye, RS Rector, SJ Borengasser, SP Naples, GM Uptergrove, JA Ibdah, FW Booth, JP Thyfault. Cessation of daily wheel running differentially alters fat oxidation capacity in liver, muscle, and adipose tissue. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Jan;106(1):161-8
  4. 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.
  5. CN Young, SH Deo, A Kim, M Horiuchi, CR Mikus, GM Uptergrove, JP Thyfault, PJ Fadel. Influence of endurance training on central sympathetic outflow to skeletal muscle in response to a mixed meal. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Apr;108(4):882-90.
  6. RS Rector, JP Thyfault, GM Uptergrove, EM Morris, SP Naples, SJ Borengasser, CR Mikus, MJ Laye, MH Laughlin, FW Booth, and JA Ibdah. Mitochondrial dysfunction precedes insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis and contributes to the natural history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in an obese rodent model. J Hepatol. 2010 May;52(5):727-36.
  7. JP Thyfault, MG Cree, EB Tapscott, JA Bell, TR Koves, O Ilkayeva, RR Wolfe, GL Dohm, DM Muoio. Metabolic Profiling of Muscle Contraction in Lean Compared to Obese Rodents. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Sep;299(3):R926-34
  8. CR Mikus, RS Rector, AA Arce-Esquivel, JL Libla, FW Booth, JA Ibdah, MH Laughlin, JP Thyfault. Daily physical activity enhances reactivity to insulin in skeletal muscle arterioles of hyperphagic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty rats. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Oct;109(4):1203-10.
  9. RS Rector and JP Thyfault. Does physical inactivity cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? J Appl Physiol 111: 1828-1835, 2011.
  10. JP Thyfault and MR Krogh. Metabolic disruptions induced by reduced ambulatory activity in free living humans. J Appl Physiol 111: 1218-1224, 2011.
  11. CR Mikus, DJ Oberlin, JL Libla, AM Taylor, FW Booth, and JP Thyfault. Lowering physical activity impairs glycemic control in healthy volunteers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Feb;44(2):225-31
  12. CR Mikus, Fairfax ST, Libla JL, Boyle LJ, Vianna LC, Oberlin DJ, Uptergrove GM, Deo SH, Kim A, Kanaley JA, Fadel PJ, and JP Thyfault. Seven days of aerobic exercise training improves conduit artery blood flow following glucose ingestion in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Sep;111(3):657-64.
  13. SJ Borengasser, RS Rector, GM Uptergrove, EM Morris, JW Perfield, FW Booth, KL Fritsche, JA Ibdah and JP Thyfault. Exercise and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for the treatment of hepatic steatosis in hyperphagic OLETF rats. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:268680
  14. 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.
  15. Morris EM, Meers GM, Booth FW, Fritsche KL, Hardin CD, Thyfault JP, Ibdah JA. PGC-1α overexpression results in increased hepatic fatty acid oxidation with reduced triacylglycerol accumulation and secretion. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2012;303 G979-G992
  16. Solomon TP, Thyfault JP. Type 2 Diabetes Sits in a Chair. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2013 Nov; 15(11):987-92
  17. 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
  18. Oberlin DJ, Mikus CR, Kearney ML, Hinton PS, Manrique C, Leidy HJ, Kanaley JA, Rector RS, and JP Thyfault. One bout of exercise alters free-living postprandial glycemia in Type 2 Diabetes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 201 Feb; 46 (2):232-8.
  19. Boyle LJ, Credeur DP, Jenkins NT, Padilla J, Leidy HJ, Thyfault JP, Fadel PJ. Impact of reduced daily physical activity on conduit artery flow-mediated dilation and circulating endothelial microparticles. J Appl Physiol 2013 Nov;115(10):1519-25
  20. E Matthew Morris, MR Jackman, GC Johnson, TW Liu, JL Lopez, ML Kearney, JA Fletcher, G.M.E. Meers, LG Koch, SL Britton, RS Rector, JA Ibdah, PS MacLean, and JP Thyfault. Intrinsic Aerobic Capacity Impacts Susceptibility to Acute High-fat Diet-induced Hepatic Steatosis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Aug 15:307(4):E355-64.
  21. LJ Reynolds, DP Credeur, SW Holwerda, HJ Leidy, PJ Fadel, JP Thyfault. Acute inactivity impairs glycemic control but not blood flow to glucose ingestion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 May;47(5): 1087-94
  22. Vieira-Potter VJ, Padilla J, Park J, Welly R, Scroggins R, Britton S, Koch L, Jenkins NT, Crissey J, Zidon T, Morris M, Meers G, Thyfault JP. Female rats selectively bred for high intrinsic aerobic fitness are protected from ovariectomy-associated metabolic dysfunction. Am J Physiol Reg Integ Comp Physiol.2015 Mar 15:308(6):R530-42. 1087-94
Last modified: Oct 05, 2017

John Thyfault


John P. Thyfault, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

2067 Hemenway
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160

P: P: (913) 588-1790
F: F: (913) 588-7430