McMaster University

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Stuart Phillips

Stuart Phillips


BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD
Professor and Canada Research Chair(Tier 1)

Research Interests

The maintenance of a metabolically active skeletal muscle mass is to a great extent underappreciated, particularly where optimal health is concerned. Skeletal muscle, besides its obvious role in locomotion, is a highly important thermogenic (i.e., energy consuming) tissue and the prime determinant of our basal metabolic rate, which for most of us is the largest single contributor to daily energy expenditure. Hence, declines in skeletal muscle mass can lead to increases in body fat mass. Because of its oxidative capacity (i.e., mitochondrial content) skeletal muscle is also a large site of fat oxidation, potentially playing a role in maintaining lipoprotein (cholesterol) and triglyceride homeostasis. Skeletal muscle is also, mostly by virtue of its mass, the primary site of blood glucose disposal; hence, maintaining skeletal muscle mass would also play a role in reducing risk for development of type II diabetes. Finally, the decline in maximal aerobic capacity with age, and with other metabolic disorders.



Current research is focused on studies in humans, both young and elderly, as well as people with spinal cord injuries to investigate the following:

  1. Impact of plant versus animal protein sources on muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise (USDA funded)
  2. Influence of different muscular contraction paradigms on patterns of response of muscle protein synthesis of protein and protein subfractions (NSERC funded)
  3. Impact of nutrition and resistance exercise and mechanistic evaluation of increases in protein synthesis in the aged (CIHR funded)
  4. Mechanisms of muscle wasting with immobilization in humans (CIHR funded)
  5. Impact of a novel rehabilitation tool — body weight supported treadmill training — on muscle function and biochemical and morphological adaptations in persons with a spinal cord injury (ONF and CIHR funded)



The facilities at the Exercise Metabolism Research Laboratory include mass spectrometry (GC-MS, GC-C-IRMS), Western blotting, RT-PCR, RIA, ELISA, HPLC, Fluorimetry and Spectrophotometry.


McMaster University
Ivor Wynne Centre

telephone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 24465


Program Area

Metabolism & Nutrition


Research Focus

Human, Skeletal Muscle, Protein Turnover, Protein Synthesis, Proteasome, Hypertrophy, Atrophy, Muscle Wasting, Sarcopenia

Selected Publications

1. R.W. Morton, L. Colenso-Semple, and S.M. Phillips. Training for strength and hypertrophy: an evidence-based approach. Curr. Opin. Physiol. 10: 90-95, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.cophys.2019.04.006
2. S.Y. Oikawa, T.M. Holloway, and S.M. Phillips. The impact of step reduction on muscle health in aging: protein and exercise as countermeasures. Front. Physiol. 6:75, 2019. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00075
3. J.C. McLeod, T. Stokes, and S.M. Phillips. Resistance exercise training as a primary countermeasure to age-related chronic disease. Front. Physiol. 10: 645, 2019. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00645
4. R.W. Morton, D.A. Traylor, P.J.M. Weijs, and S.M. Phillips. Defining anabolic resistance: implications for delivery of clinical care nutrition. Curr. Opin. Crit. Care. 24(2): 124-130, 2019.
5. W.E. Ward, P.D. Chilibeck, E.M. Comelli, A.M. Duncan, S.M. Phillips, L.E. Robinson, and T. Stellingwerff. Research in nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals for health, physical activity and performance: moving forward. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 44(5): 455-460, 2019. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0781
6. S.M. Phillips and W. Martinson. Nutrient-rich, high-quality, protein-containing dairy foods in combination with exercise in aging persons to mitigate sarcopenia. Nutr. Rev. 77(4): 216-229, 2019. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy062