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Matt M. Morris, Ph.D

E Matthew Morris portrait
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
emorris2@kumc.edu

Professional Background

I received my bachelors degree in biology from the University of Missouri. Following time as a brewer and research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, I returned to academic research as a technician at MU. Shortly after I began my graduate studies in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, with Dr. Jamal Ibdah serving as my primary advisor as I studied hepatocyte mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and the impact on total cellular lipid physiology. In 2011, I defended my dissertation and began my post-doctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. John Thyfault at MU. I directed studies investigating how liver energy metabolism impacts, not only the onset and progression of metabolic fatty liver disease, but other systemic metabolic disease states, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. In 2015, I moved with Dr. Thyfault to the University of Kansas Medical Center. In 2017 received NIH funding through a Mentored K01 NIDDK award to study the role of liver energy metabolism in energy homeostasis during acute high-fat/high-sucrose feeding. In January 2020, I accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor in in the Department of Molecular andamp; Integrative Physiology to start my own laboratory as principal investigator.

Education and Training
  • PhD, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Missoui, Columbia, Missouri
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, KUMC, Kansas City, Kansas
Professional Affiliations
  • American Heart Association, Member, 2012 - Present

Research

Overview

My research interests center around the regulatory mechanisms of energy homeostasis through modulation of tissue-specific and systemic energy metabolism, and how these mechanisms fail or are overwhelmed leading to weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. This starts by studying how the function of the primary energy producing cellular bodies, mitochondria, can impact tissue function and systemic health. Currently, the lab is investigating: 1) how liver mitochondrial function can, through peripheral neural pathways to the homeostatic control regions of the brain, influence sex differences in high fat diet-induced weight, 2) how systemic energy expenditure and sex differences interact to regulate diet-induced weight gain, changes in adiposity, and adaptation of energy metabolism, and finally, 3) whether transcriptional control of mitochondrial lipid metabolism in the ventromedial hypothalamus is necessary for alterations in energy metabolism resulting in susceptibility to diet-induced weight gain.

Current Research and Grants
  • Hepatic mitochondrial function control of high-fat diet-induced weight gain, NIH/NIDDK, PI