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John P. Thyfault, PhD, FACSM, FTOS

John Thyfault portrait
Professor, Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Professor, Endocrinology, Metabolism & Genetics

Scientific Director, Children's Mercy Hospital, Center for Children's Healthy Lifestyle and Nutrition

Scientist, Kansas City VA Medical Center-Research Service

Professional Background

Dr. Thyfault has expertise in obesity, metabolism, and exercise physiology using translational approaches. Dr. Thyfault received his BS and MS at Fort Hays State University and his PhD at the University of Kansas (2002). He then completed postdoctoral training at East Carolina University and was on faculty at the University of Missouri from 2005 to 2015. He has been faculty at KUMC since 2015. The broad theme of his research focuses on the mechanisms by which physical inactivity and lower aerobic capacity drive susceptibility for obesity and chronic metabolic disease conditions including insulin resistance and fatty liver. He has been continuously funded by the AHA, VA, or NIH for the last 12 years.

Education and Training
  • BS, Health and Human Performance, Fort Hays State University, Hays
  • MS, Exercise Science, Fort Hays State University, Hays
  • PhD, Exercise Physiology, University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Department of Physiology, East Carolina University-Brody School of Medicine, Greenville
Professional Affiliations
  • The Obesity Society, Fellow, 2016 - Present
  • American College of Sports Medicine, Fellow, 2012 - Present



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.

Current Research and Grants
  • Aerobic Fitness, Mitochondrial Function, and Fatty Liver Disease, NIH
  • Sexual dimorphism, hepatic mitochondrial adaptations, and hepatic steatosis, VA
  • Von Schulze, A., T, Deng, F, Fuller KNZ, Franczak, E, Miller, J, Allen, J, McCoin, C., S, Shankar, K, Ding, W., X, Thyfault, J., P, Geiger, P., C. 2021. Heat Treatment Improves Hepatic Mitochondrial Respiratory Efficiency via Mitochondrial Remodeling.. Function (Oxford, England), 2 (2), zqab001
  • Fuller KNZ, McCoin, C., S, Allen, J, Bell-Glenn, S, Koestler, D., C, Dorn, G., W, Thyfault, J., P. 2020. Sex and BNIP3 genotype, rather than acute lipid injection, modulate hepatic mitochondrial function and steatosis risk in mice.. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 128 (5), 1251-1261
  • Mercer, K., E, Maurer, A, Pack, L., M, Ono-Moore, K, Spray, B., J, Campbell, C, Chandler, C., J, Burnett, D, Souza, E, Casazza, G, Keim, N, Newman, J, Hunter, G, Fernadez, J, Garvey, W., T, Harper, M., E, Hoppel, C, Adams, S., H, Thyfault, J. 2021. Exercise training and diet-induced weight loss increase markers of hepatic bile acid (BA) synthesis and reduce serum total BA concentrations in obese women.. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 320 (5), E864-E873
  • Eller, O., C, Foright, R., M, Brake, A., D, Winter, M., K, Bantis, L., E, Morris, E., M, Thyfault, J., P, Christianson, J., A. 2021. An Omega-3-rich Anti-inflammatory Diet Improved Widespread Allodynia and Worsened Metabolic Outcomes in Adult Mice Exposed to Neonatal Maternal Separation.. Neuroscience, 468, 53-67
  • Cunningham, R., P, Mary, M, Daskek, R., J, Meers, G., M, Takahashi, T, Sheldon, R., D, Wheeler, A., A, Diaz-Arias, A, Ibdah, J., A, Parks, E., J, Thyfault, J., P, Rector, R., S. 2021. Critical role for hepatocyte-specific eNOS in NAFLD and NASH.. Diabetes