Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Stephen Ayers Ph.D.

Stephen Ayers, Ph.D

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Stephen Ayers, Ph.D.

Director, Genomic Sequencing Core
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute

E-mail: sdayers@houstonmethodist.org
Phone: 713-441-8693


B.A.   Union College, New York, NY
M. Res.   University of Glasgow, Scotland (Bioinformatics)
Ph.D.   Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (Biochemistry)

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Associate, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Instructor, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston, TX (Genomic Medicine)



Dr. Ayers completed a masters in Bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow, and a doctorate in Biochemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He then continued to work in the field of gene transcription, as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the guidance of Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He moved to Houston to study the regulation of gene transcription by nuclear receptors at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute. At TMHRI, he has serves as the director of the Genomic Sequencing core facility, collaborating with investigators throughout the Texas Medical Center. 

Description of Research

Dr. Ayers studies metabolic disease, defining metabolic gene regulation by nuclear hormone receptors, a large family of ligand-dependent transcription factors, which activate the transcription of specific target genes in the presence of small, hydrophilic ligands such as hormones, vitamins and synthetic drugs.  His research is focused on receptors that are known to control the transcription of metabolically important genes, including peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs), thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR).  These receptors have distinct effects on liver metabolic pathways and are targeted for the treatment of metabolic disease.  However, each of these receptors has also been associated with certain negative side effects as well.  Dr. Ayers’s past and present research studies have focused on the use of structural biology and genomic research methodologies to develop a better understanding of the way in which these receptors regulate the transcription of metabolic genes and to develop strategies to more specifically target these receptors for the treatment of disease.

Major Areas of Research

Thyroid, nuclear receptors, transcription, diabetes, genomics


Amato AA, Rajagopalan S, Lin JZ, Carvalho BM, Figueira AC, Lu J, Ayers SD, Mottin M, Silveira RL, Souza PC, Mourao RH, Saad MJ, Togashi M, Simeoni LA, Abdalla DS, Skaff MS, Polikarpov I, Lima MC, Galdino SL, Brennan RG, Baxter JD, Pitta IR, Webb P, Phillips KJ, Neves FA. GQ-16, A novel PPAR? ligand, promotes insulin sensitization without weight gain. J Biol Chem. 2012 May 14.

Puhl AC, Bernardes A, Silveira RL, Yuan J, Campos JL, Saidemberg DM, Palma MS, Cvoro A, Ayers SD, Webb P, Reinach PS, Skaf MS, Polikarpov I. Mode of PPAR? Activation by Luteolin. Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Jun;81(6):788-99.

Xiao R, Sun D, Ayers S, Li W, Baxter JD, Moore DD. The Estrogen Receptor Alpha Cistrome Defined by DamIP. Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Feb;26(2):349-57.

Deng T, Sieglaff DH, Zhang A, Lyon CJ, Ayers SD, Cvoro A, Gupte AA, Xia X,Baxter JD, Webb P, Hsueh WA. A peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) coactivator autoregulatory loop in adipocyte mitochondrial function.  J Biochem. 2011 Sep 2;286(35):30723-31

Yuan C, Lin Z, Sieglaff DH, Ayers SD, Denoto-Reynolds F, Webb P, Baxter B. Identical Gene Regulation Patterns of Triiodothyronine (T3) and Selective Thyroid Hormone Receptor Modulator GC-1. Endocrinology 2012 Jan;153(1):501-11.

Sberna A, Assem M, Xiao R, Ayers S,  Gautier T, Guiu B, Deckert V, Chevriaux A, Grober A, Le Guern N, de Barros J, Moore D, Lagrost L, Masson D. Constitutive Androstane Receptor Activation Decreases Plasma Apolipoprotein B-Containing Lipoproteins and Atherosclerosis in Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Deficient Mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011 Oct;31(10):2232-9.

Beck D, Ayers S, Wen J, Brandl MB, Pham TD, Webb P, Chang CC, Zhou X. Integrative analysis of next generation sequencing for small non-coding RNAs and transcriptional regulation in Myelodysplastic Syndromes. BMC Med Genomics. 2011 Feb 23;4(1):19.

Shea PR, Beres SB, Flores AR, Ewbank AL, Gonzalez-Lugo JH, Martagon-Rosado AJ, Martinez-Gutierrez JC, Rehman HA, Serrano-Gonzalez M, Fittipaldi N, Ayers SD, Webb P, Willey BM, Low DE, Musser JM. Distinct Signatures of Diversifying Selection Revealed by Full-Genome Analysis of the Population Structure of Upper Respiratory Tract and Invasive Bacterial Strains.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 22;108(12):5039-44. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Ayers SD, Nedrow KL, Gillilan RE, Noy N.  Continuous nucleocytoplasmic shuttling underlies transcriptional activation of PPARgamma by FABP4. Biochemistry. 2007 Jun 12;46(23):6744-52.

Gillilan RE, Ayers SD, Noy N. Structural basis for activation of fatty acid-binding protein. J Mol Biol. 2007 Oct 5;372(5):1246-60.