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Professor David Lubans

Professor David Lubans - man with a grey suit jacket standing in front of an athletic field with a running track and grandstand
HMRI Award for Mid Career Research
2017 HMRI Award for Mid Career Research

David Lubans is a HMRI and University of Newcastle researcher commited to investigating the benefits of physical activity. His world-class research has taken him around the world and back. Now he’s determined to improve the health and wellbeing of young people across the globe - right here from HMRI and the University of Newcastle.
View David's research outputs on his University of Newcastle profile >


Professor David Lubans is the Deputy Director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Active Living and Learning (CALL) and Senior Executive in the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Active Living Research Program.

David has been instrumental in establishing the University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition (PRC-PAN). These overlapping research groups include 27 researchers and 49 PhD students. He is a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow, current National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow, and has led schools-based research at the University of Newcastle for over a decade.

Professor Lubans has published extensively (>300 peer reviewed articles) and secured funding (>$45M as a chief investigator) from competitive sources including the ARC, NHMRC, Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada, Health Research Council New Zealand, and Hong Kong General Research Fund.

He is named by Clarivate as a 2023 Highly Cited Researcher, ranking in the top 1% by citations and having demonstrated significant and broad influence in his field of research. Amongst his international collaborations, David is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and until recently was Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (HK).

With a career h-index of 91 and over 33,000 citations he is internationally recognised as an expert in the design, evaluation and dissemination of school-based physical activity interventions. Much of his research has involved inter-sectoral partnerships with government and non-government organisations.

A particular area of interest is studying the effects of physical activity and fitness on young people’s mental health and cognition. Professor Lubans is regularly invited to serve on expert committees to guide physical activity policy and practice.


Research Interests

  • Modifying physical activity trajectories in priority adolescent populations to reduce the burden of chronic disease.
  • Design and evaluation of school- and community-based interventions to increase physical activity in child and adolescent populations.
  • Identifying measurable cost-effective interventions to promote physical activity that address socio-economic inequalities.
  • Integrating technology and changing individuals' perceptions of their physical environment to promote physical activity and fitness.
  • Investigating the effects and maximising the benefits of physical activity and fitness on mental health outcomes in young people.
  • Adaptation of high intensity interval training and resistance training for population health. 

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Interventions
  • Physical activity measurement
  • Measurement and analysis of mediators of behaviour change




Why did you get into research?

Physical inactivity has been described as a 'global pandemic', with extensive health, economic, environmental and social implications. I have been working in physical activity promotion for over 20 years and I regularly witness the barriers (both perceived and actual) to physical activity faced by people of all ages.

We know that physical activity levels decline dramatically during adolescence and that behavioural patterns track into adulthood. My program of research has been focused on providing young people with the motivation, confidence and competence to be physically active now and throughout their lifetime.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
My goal is to see more people, more active, more of the time. My program of research is focused on providing innovation and evidence to build social and physical environments that promote physical activity. 



Award for Mid Career Research - David Lubans
HMRI Award for Mid Career Research