Professor Robert G. Gilbert

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Contact Details
Professor Robert G Gilbert
Hartley Teakle Building (Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences)
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovations University of Queensland
Brisbane Qld 4072

+61-7-3365 1188
+61-41 2215 144 (mobile), +61 7 3365 4809 (office)
b. gilbert -at- uq. edu . au
R.G. Gilbert

Professor Robert G (Bob) Gilbert is a Research Professor at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia). His research program centres on the relations between starch and glycogen structure (both being highly branched glucose polymers) and nutrition, especially diabetes and obesity. He also has interests in polymerization in disperse media, including emulsion polymerization.

For Professor Gilbert's CV: click here

For a list of Professor Gilbert's publications: click here

To request a reprint, email him: b.gilbert A T

For a list of Professor Gilbert's conference publications: click here

For a list of the group's current research: click here

Vacation Scholarships

There are some vacation research scholarships available in the group, for undergraduates from UQ and other Australian and NZ universities. If you are interested in applying, contact Bob Gilbert: b.gilbert -at-

Research Program

Our group has new laboratories (opened August 2011) with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.


The research group has developed new experimental and theoretical methods for the characterization of starch, glycogen and other branched polymers. These new methods open doors for understanding of starch and glycogen biosynthesis-structure-property relations, especially with regard to human health.

Starch and glycogen are both complex branched polymers of glucose, with very similar chemical structure and branching patterns. Starch is synthesized by plants for energy storage, and also provides about 50% of our food energy. Glycogen is synthesized by humans and other animals as a glucose (blood-sugar) reservoir.

Food with certain digestibility characteristics (including a low glycemic response and an appropriate amount of resistant starch) has major health benefits. Starch is the main component of food, and has a very complex structure over scales from nanometres to millimetres. Glycogen is the glucose storage polymer in humans. The group's research program at the University of Queensland uses a battery of new experimental and theoretical techniques to identify and understand the structural characteristics of starches that influence beneficial digestibility. The research is enabling meaningful information to be deduced about the structure of starch from previously uninterpretable data. The group also works on glycogen biosynthesis and degradation, which is strongly related to diabetes.

This program is creating new tools for food and agricultural scientists to devise novel plant varieties and food processing procedures. It also has the potential to discover new drugs for the treatment and prevention of diabetes. These tools are providing new directions for nutritionists and biomedical experts concerned about nutrition-related diseases, especially diabetes and obesity.

This research program will enable farmers and food manufacturers to improve the types, production and marketability of foods with optimal digestibility characteristics such as low glycemic index. Improving the digestibility properties of food will help to reduce obesity (approaching epidemic proportions), diabetes and gastro-intestinal cancers. The research will address these health challenges by transforming the process of identifying and developing desirable grain varieties and food processing techniques.

Our main laboratory equipment is to characterize the structure of these complex branched glucose polymers using a variety of tools, especially size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), also known as gel-permeation chromatography (GPC). Our devices are very advanced, with multiple detection and able to handle the difficult solvent system needed to dissolve these polymers from the natural source with molecular separation, without aggregation or degradation.

Graduate/postgraduate studies: research PhD and MSc

The field of starch and its applications has superb job opportunities. There is a need for graduates in this field, and the job:people ratio is very favourable to those seeking positions.

For information about the types of projects available, consult the research program

To be considered for enrolment, you need to:

Consult the UQ website for Australian or NZ residents or citizens

or the UQ website for international applicants

International students may apply for an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) which covers tuition fees and stipend.

International students must pay tuition fees, which are covered by some scholarships (such as CSC, China Scholarship Council) but not others.