Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Prof Gibson is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Professor, Food Science and Nutrition, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, and Director of the FOODplus Research Centre University of Adelaide. After 30 years as Chief Hospital Scientist in Flinders Medical Centre, Prof Gibson joined the University of Adelaide and established a unique research unit that has both a basic nutrition core and a large scale clinical trials unit. Called the FOODplus Research Centre it has become one of Australia’s leading nutrition research groups particularly in the area of fatty acids in the perinatal arena.

Prof Gibson is a biochemist/nutritionist who has published over 260 peer reviewed papers in a variety of paediatric, nutrition and biochemical journals. His work has been cited over 13,000 times in scholarly journals (over 800 citations per year since 2011) with a h-index of 57 [taken from Google Scholar 2016]. Several papers enjoy high citation rates with 4 having over 500 citations each, 9 having over 200 citations each and 15 having over 100 citations each. 

Prof Gibson has been invited to write editorials for the Lancet, Paediatrics and the Medical Journal of Australia and his work published in the Am J Clin Nutr, the leading journal of his discipline, has been subject to invited editorials from other research leaders. 

Prof Gibson has designed and conducted numerous randomised clinical trials involving nutrition interventions in the perinatal period. The trials were designed to test the effects of interventions with iron, selenium and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on infant biochemistry, growth, physiology and developmental outcome. He has been actively involved in fatty acid research for 25 years and has published over 100 papers in this area. His laboratory processes 10,000 samples per year from investigators and hospitals around Australia and was selected to conduct all the fatty acid determinations for the Melbourne Collaborative cohort study (50,000 subjects).

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2009 - ongoing Director University of Adelaide
    2006 - ongoing Professor of Functional Food Science University of Adelaide
    2003 - ongoing NHMRC Senior Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2000 - 2006 Deputy Director Child Health Research Institute
    1997 - 2005 Director Child Nutrition Research Centre
    1991 - 1997 Chief Hospital Scientist Flinders Medical Centre
    1986 - 1990 Principal Hospital Scientist Flinders Medical Centre
    1976 - 1985 Hospital Scientist Flinders Medical Centre
    1975 - 1977 CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowship CSIRO
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1971 - 1975 University of Adelaide Australia PhD (Agric)
    1970 - 1971 Carlton University Canada BSc (Biol)

NHMRC Grants (currently held):

  • APP1022112; Collins CT, Gibson RA, McPhee AJ, Thio M, Sullivan T, Simmer K, Rajadurai V. Project grant: N-3 fatty acids for the improvement of respiratory outcome in preterm infants (N3RO): a randomised controlled trial. 2012 for 3 years (extended to 2015). $1,870,914.
  • APP1035530; Makrides M, Gibson RA, Ryan P, Zhou SJ, Dodd J, McPhee AJ, Umberger W, Muhlhausler B, Collins CT, Penttila I. Centre of Research Excellence: Foods for Future Australians. 2012 for 5 years. $2,500,000.
  • APP1046207; Gibson RA. Fellowship, PRF: 2013-2017 (2013 $130,553; 2014 $130,553; 2015 $130,553; 2016 $130,553; 2017 $130,553).
  • APP1050468; Zhou SJ, Makrides M, Quinlivan J, McPhee AJ, Yelland L, Gibson RA. Omega 3 fats to Reduce the Incidence of Prematurity: The ORIP Trial. 2013 for 5 years. $4,021,840.
  • APP1068407; Brown A, Nicholls S, Sanders P, Gibson R, Willoughby S. The Aboriginal Cardiovascular Omega-3 Randomised Controlled Trial. 2014 for 3 years. $1,057,247.

NHMRC Grants (past):

  • ID880805; Gibson, Cleland, Betts. Project grant: Omega-3 fatty acids and control of inflammation. 1988-90; $80,000.
  • ID900254; Cleland, Gibson.  Project grant: Dietary EPA and human neutrophil leukotriene production. 1990-92; $120,000.   
  • ID910408; Cleland, Gibson, James. Project grant: Dietary oils and control of inflammation. 1991-93; $130,000. 
  • ID 930913; Cleland, Gibson, James. Project grant: N-9 Eicosatrienoic acid and modulation of inflammation and arthritis. 1993-95; $150,000. 
  • ID 9441143; Gibson, Simmer. Project grant: A critical examination of formulas in the nutrition of term infants. 1994-96; $181,481. 
  • ID 951097; Gibson. Project grant: DHA requirements of formula fed infants. 1995-97; $141,165.  
  • ID 961441; Gibson, Cleland.  Equipment grant: Gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer.  1996; $85,000.   
  • ID 250431; Giles, Tilley, Hopper, Gibson, Hodge, Thurn. Project grant: The predictors of prostate cancer in Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. 2000-02; $428,830.   
  • ID157970; Cleland, James, Proudmann, Gibson. Project grant: Dietary n-3 fats and outcomes in early onset rheumatoid arthritis; 2001-05; $450,000. 
  • ID 250413; Makrides, Gibson, Baghurst. Project grant: The effect of iron supplementation in pregnancy on child cognitive development. 2003-04; $87,500. 
  • ID 250324; Gibson. Senior Research Fellowship. 2003-07; $675,000.
  • ID 250322; Makrides, Gibson, McPhee, Davis, Simmer, Morris. Project grant: DHA for the Improvement of Neurodevelopmental Outcome in preterm infants: the DINO Trial. 2003-07; $615,000.   
  • ID 349301; Makrides, Gibson, McPhee, Quinlivan. Project grant: A Randomised Trial of DHA in Pregnancy to prevent Postnatal Depressive Symptoms and Enhance Neurodevelopment in Children (DOMInO). 2005-08; $1.6m.
  • ID 399389; Makrides, Gibson, Gold, Hawkes, Prescott, Zola. Project grant: n-3 LCPUFA supplementation in pregnancy to reduce allergies in childhood. 2006-10; $767,500. 
  • ID 399333 James, Sanders, Metcalf, Edwards, Gibson, Young. Project grant: Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on post surgical atrial fibrillation: A prospective randomised study. 2006-08; $525,000.
  • ID 453511; James, Gibson, Cleland, Cook-Johnson, Lester. Project grant: Regulation and activity of fatty acid delta-6 desaturase (D6D). 2007-09; $507,000.
  • ID 519324; RA Gibson. Senior Research Fellowship: 2008-2012 SRF level B (2008 $119,000; 2009 $119,000; 2010 $119,900; 2011 $119,000; 2012 $119,000).
  • ID 508003; M Makrides, RA Gibson, L Doyle, PJ Anderson, P Ryan, CT Collins. Project grant: Long-term follow-up of children born pretermwho received high dose DHA: the DINO trial follow-up. 2008 $175,400; 2009 $65,400; 2010 $205,800; 2011 $205,800; 2012 $218,500.    
  • ID 627174; Gibson RA, Anderson P, Smithers LG. Project grant: Does maternal supplementation with n-3 long-chain PUFA in pregnancy influence cognitive development in childhood? (DOMInO 4). 2010-2012; $534,125.
  • ID 570109; M Makrides, B Muhlhausler, RA Gibson, R McDermott, L Tapsell. Project Grant: Effect of prenatal n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on body mass in early childhood. 2009 $350,350; 2010 $258,350; 2011 $258,350; 2012 $258,350; 2013 $258,350.

Other sources (currently held):

  • WCH Foundation - Research Project; Bonney, Collins CT, McPhee AJ, Gibson RA. Reducing early nutrient deficit and thereby improving growth in the moderately preterm infant: a randomised controlled trial. 2016; $70,755.

Other sources (past):

  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Gibson. Long chain PUFA in human breast milk. 1988-1989; $35,000.    
  • SA SIDS Foundation. Gibson. Lung surfactant inhibitors in SIDS. 1989; $27,000.    
  • Nestle Australia; Gibson. Optimal LA:ALA ratio in infant formula. 1990; $10,000.
  • Nestle Australia; Gibson. Neural function of formula fed term infants. 1991; $13,000.
  • Scotia Pharm UK; Gibson. The use of an evening primrose and fish oil blend as a supplement for infant formula. 1991; $20,000.   
  • Scotia Pharm UK; Gibson. Incorporation of EPA from 3 forms of marine oil into human blood cells. 1991; $20,000.
  • SA SIDS Foundation; Gibson, Byard.  Highly unsaturated fats and SIDS: Is there a connection? 1991-93; $40,000.
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Gibson, Simmer. Neuronal function of healthy term infants: effect of modifying fats of formula. 1991-93; $65,000. 
  • Scotia Pharm UK; Gibson. Fatty acid status of pregnant and lactating women. 1992; $20,000.    
  • Martek Biosciences, USA; Gibson, Makrides. DHA supplementation of breastfeeding mothers: effects on fatty acid status, breast milk composition and infant neural indices. 1993-95; $91,000.   
  • Nestec, Switzerland; Gibson, Simmer. Effect of DHA alone and in combination with AA on growth and development of term infants. 1993-95; $180,000.
  • Wyeth-Ayerst USA; Gibson. Effect of formulas with two LA:ALA ratios on growth and development of term infants. 1994-96; $190,000.    
  • Fisheries R&D Corporation; Cleland, James, Gibson. Effect of a fish based diet on biochemical parameters relevant to thrombotic/inflammatory disease. 1995-96; $74,000.    
  • Meadow Lea Foods; Gibson, Sinclair, Makrides. Alpha-linolenic acid and brain development. 1995-97; $120,000.    
  • Nestec Research, Switzerland; Gibson, Makrides. The effects of diets rich in DHA and/or gamma-linolenic acid in plasma fatty acid profiles in term infants. 1995-96; $70,000.    
  • Egg Industry Research & Development Council; Gibson, Makrides. Eggs as a source of essential DHA in the diets of weaning infants. 1996-98; $128,000.    
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Gibson. Investigating the mechanism of action of DHA in the brain. 1996-97; $20,000.
  • Heart Foundation. Cleland, James, Gibson. Dietary n-3 fats and inhibition of cytokine synthesis. 1996-97; $66,000.     
  • GRDC; Gibson. Alpa-linoleic acid and brain development. 1996-98; $112,000.     
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Rathjen, Ferrante, Gibson. Enhancement of non-specific immunity against non-typable haemophilus influenza by dietary fatty acids. 1996-98; $75,000.   
  • Wyeth-Ayerst International, USA; Gibson, Makrides. A randomised trial of arachidonic acid dose in formulas containing DHA in term infants. 1996-97; $163,968.   
  • Clover Corporation; Makrides, Gibson. Should lactating mothers be supplemented with DHA? 1997; $90,000.    
  • Mead Johnson, USA; Gibson. Effect of LCPUFA on preterm infants. 1997-98; $127,700.    
  • Wyeth-Ayerst; Gibson, Hawkes. Beta Carotene in breast milk. 1998; $24,000.      
  • Wyeth-Ayerst, USA; Gibson. LCPUFA and immune function: Animal study. 1998-99; $56,000.     
  • Wyeth-Ayerst, USA; Gibson, Neumann. Biosynthesis of LCPUFA: Animal study. 1998-99; $54,000.  
  • Meadow Lea-RIRDC; Gibson, Hawkes, Pang. The effect of dietary omega 3 to omega 6 PUFA ratios on immunocompetence. 1998-99; $35,000.    
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Hawkes; Gibson. Effect of DHA supplementation to lactating mothers on immune factors in breastmilk. 1998-99; $38,500.      
  • Meadow Lea Foods/GRDC; Makrides, Crowther, Gibson. The association between maternal fatty acid status and postnatal depression. 1999-2000; $35,527.     
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation; Makrides, Gibson, McPhee. High DHA intake and visual development in preterm infants: a randomised trial. 1999-2002; $54,000.     
  • Nestle, Switzerland; Makrides, Gibson, Daniels, Simmer. Selenium supplementation of term infants: a randomised trial. 1999-2002; $115,000.
  • Wyeth Nutritionals International; Gibson, Neumann. Can ALA in the diet be a source of DHA? 2000; $55,000.     
  • ARC/DETYA; Gibson, Forsyth, Hawkes, Sinclair. The effect of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and conjugated-linoleic acid (CLA) on markers of immunity in virus infected respiratory epithelial cells. 2000-02; $63,000.    
  • Wyeth Nutritionals International; Gibson, Hawkes, Makrides. Effects of dietary nucleotides on markers of immune function in term infants. 2000-03; $600,000.    
  • WCH Research Foundation; Makrides, Palmer, Gold, Hawkes, Gibson. The effect of dietary egg protein on egg ovalbumin concentration in breast milk: a randomised dose-response trial. 2001; $20,000. 
  • WCH Research Foundation; Gibson, Makrides, Hawkes, Neumann. The effect of dietary nucleotides on infant long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) status: a critical evaluation. 2001; $14,800.   
  • RIRDC – egg program; Gibson, Hughes. Eggs with increased arachidonic acid for infant formulas. 2001-04; $222,000.      
  • Financial Markets Foundation for Children; Gibson. Determining the safety of formulas for preterm infants: A meta-analysis of the growth of infants in randomised clinical trials of LCPUFA supplementation. 2002-03; $54,020.    
  • Wyeth Nutritional International; Gibson, Hawkes, Neumann. Dietary LCPUFA in pregnancy and lactation in rats. 2002-03; $80,000.    
  • DRDC; Gibson, Makrides, Neumann. Dairy fats are best for weaning infants. 2002-04; $89,675.     
  • Nestle, Switzerland; Makrides, Gibson. Safety and tolerance of whey-predominant starter formula containing Probiotics and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. 2003-04; $315,645.     
  • Dairy Australia; Gibson, Makrides, Sinclair. Healthy Dairy Diet for Families, Study 1 Toddler. 2004-06; $234,334.      
  • Wyeth Nutrition, USA; Makrides, Gibson, Zhou. Dietary intake and nutritional status of Australian toddlers and pre-schoolers. 2005-08; Approx $380,000.  
  • Efamol, UK; Makrides, Gibson. Donation of tuna oil and placebo oil capsules for NHMRC DOMInO Trial. 2005-08; valued at $265,000.    
  • WCH Foundation; Makrides, Collins, McPhee, Gibson. Preschool behavioural, asthma and allergy follow-up of a successful dietary intervention trial of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in preterm infants. 2007; $43,607.
  • Dennis Harwood Funding Initiative; Makrides, Gibson, Collins, McPhee, Penttila, Hussey, Miller, Zola. Research to improve the health outcomes of preterm infants. 2007-09; $300,000. 
  • Dairy Goat Corporation; M Makrides, RA Gibson, S Zhou, D Palmer, C Collins. A randomised trial to compare growth rates and nutritional status of infants fed formula on Goat Milk or Cow Milk, the TIGGA. 2008 for 3 years; $1,300,000.
  • Joint SA Gov’t & Manitoba Research Grant; Gibson RA. Improving the omega 3 status of chicken meat through vegetable oils. 2008 $94,000; 2009 $94,000; 2010 $92,000.
  • Australian Research Council; AP0878499; James MJ, Gibson RA. Omega 3 fats in vegetable oils: improving their benefits. 2008-2010; $107,000.
  • Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology; RA Gibson. Low cost omega 3 to improve chicken market value and human health. Manitoba. 2009 for 2 year; $180,000.
  • Channel 7 Research Foundation; Smithers LG, Makrides M, Gibson RA. Does fetal exposure to DHA enhance executive function in early childhood? (DIVA II). 2009 for 1 year; $40,000.
  • Women's and Children's Hospital foundation; Collins C, McPhee AJ, Morris S, Ward L, Gibson RA, Makrides M. Body Composition assessment in preterm infants: development of resistivity constants for use in Bioelectrical Impedance Spectroscopy (BIS). 2009 for 1 year; $48,292.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Ward L, Collins CT, McPhee AJ, Morris S, Gibson RA, Makrides M. Body composition assessment in preterm infants: development of resistivity constants for use in Bioelectrical Impedance Spectroscopy (BIS). 2009 for 1 year; $16,000.
  • Clover Corporation; Makrides M, Gibson RA, Collins C, McPhee A. DINO II pilot study. 2010; $35,000.
  • Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation Inc; Collins CT, Gibson RA, Makrides M, McPhee AJ, Stark MJ. Optimising erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acid profiles in preterm infants. 2011 for 1 year; $48,574.
  • Australian Research Council; AP0878499; James MJ, Gibson RA. Omega 3 fats in vegetable oils: improving their benefits. 2011 for 1 year; $107,000.
  • Australian Research Council; LP100100668; RA Gibson, B O'Neill. Novel technologies for biodiesel production from meat processing waste streams. 2010 for 3 years; $622,997.
  • Mead Johnson; Collins CT, Makrides M, Gibson RA, Ryan P. Long-term follow-up of children born preterm who received high dose DHA:  growth and allergy. 2011-2013; $186,054.
  • The University of Adelaide; RA Gibson, M Makrides. FOODplus Research Centre Operating Grant. 2009 for 5 years; $1,250,000.
  • Waite Research Institute, The University of Adelaide; Gibson RA, Muhlhausler BS, Bianco-Miotto T, Penttila I, Collins CT, McPhee AJ, Makrides M, Zhou SJ. Understanding the effect of gut microbiota on genomic regulation of epithelial cells of preterm infants. 2013 for 1 year; $70,000.
  • Clover Corporation; Collins CT, Gibson RA, Makrides M. Donation of study emulsion for N3RO study. 2012-2014; $250,000.
  • SA Govt – DFEEST. Premiers Research and Industry Fund (PRIF); Gibson R, Hughes B, Muhlhausler B, Hynd P, House J. Benefits of Dietary Omega 3 Fatty Acid. 2013-2016; $300,000.


    • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

      Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
      2017 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Developing Dried Milk Spot Based Micro-Sampling Methods to Assess Changes to the Fat Composition of Human Milk during Handling and Processing Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chang Gao
      2016 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Oxidized Lipids as Potential Mediators and Markers of Disease in Pregnancy and Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Christopher Edward Ramsden
      2016 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Understanding lipid utilisation in large (>2 kg) Yellowtail Kingfish (Seriola lalandi) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Samantha Naomi Chown
      2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Use of Flaxseed Oil for Sustainable Enrichment of Chicken Meat with Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Human Consumption Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Khaled Adnan Khaled Kanakri
      2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Enteral Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation to Attenuate Inflammation in the Preterm Infant Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Naomi Hayden Fink
      2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Development and Applications of Methods for Assessing Fat Soluble Micronutrients (FSMs) in Dried Blood Spots and Plasma by HPLC and HPLC-MS/MS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Yichao Huang
      2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Investigations into the antistaling effect of waxy durum in bread Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Laura Helen Blake
      2011 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Maternal cafeteria diet consumption and the programming of food preferences in the offspring: the role of the mu-opioid receptor Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jessica Rose Gugusheff
      2011 - 2015 Co-Supervisor The early origins of obesity: The importance of prenatal vs postnatal environment Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Mini Aprem Vithayathil
      2010 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Iodine status of pregnant and lactating women and their infants in South Australia and the impacts of current and perinatal iodine nutrition status on body composition and insulin sensitivity of children at 5 years of age Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Dao Hoa Anh Huynh
      2009 - 2013 Principal Supervisor DEVELOPMENT OF A ROBUST DRIED BLOOD SPOT METHOD FOR THE EVALUATION OF N-3 FATTY ACID STATUS OF INDIVIDUALS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ge Liu
      2009 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (n-3 LCPUFA) Levels in Chicken Products Following Consumption of alpha-Linolenic Acid Enriched Diets Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Lilik Kartikasari
      2009 - 2013 Co-Supervisor A Randomised Controlled Trial of DHA-Rich Fish Oil Supplementation During Pregnancy and Subsequent Development of Attention, Working Memory and Inhibitory Control in Early Childhood Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Jacqueline Gould
      2007 - 2011 Principal Supervisor Effects of Dietary Alpha Linolenic Acid on Biosynthesis of N-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Animals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Wei-Chun Tu
      2007 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Assessment of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Incorporation in Broiler Chicken Meat Following the Consumption of Omega-3 Rich Vegetable Oils Master of Agricultural Science Master Full Time Mrs Lilik Kartikasari
      2005 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Efficiency and Safety of a Higher Protein Human Milk Fortifier on Growth for Preterm Human Milk-Fed Infants. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Jacqueline Miller
      2003 - 2006 Co-Supervisor Safety and Efficacy of High Dose Docosahexaenoic Acid for the Preterm Infant Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time APrf Lisa Smithers
      2003 - 2005 Co-Supervisor Effect of Iron Supplementation in Pregnancy on Childhood Development: a Long Term Follow-Up of a Randomised Controlled Trial Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Jo Zhou

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