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Professor Tracy Burrows

Tracy Burrows
HMRI Award for Mid Career Research
2020 HMRI Award for Mid Career Research

A HMRI and University of Newcastle researcher, Professor Tracy Burrows is a leading expert in the areas of the assessment of dietary intake, mental health and food addiction and in conducting high-quality research trials. As well as an active researcher, she is a clinician recognised as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, who has made leaps and bounds in the world of food and nutrition research. 
View Tracy's research outputs on her University of Newcastle profile >



Professor Tracy Burrows is currently the Co-Director of HMRI’s Food and Nutrition Research Program and Director of the TRACE research group. She is recognised as a top-tier clinician and researcher through multiple prestigious awards including: 

  • Fellow of Dietitians Australia
  • HMRI Award for Mid-Career Research Excellence in 2020
  • NSW Tall Poppy Award in 2016

Professor Burrows is currently a researcher Fellow at the College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing at the University of Newcastle. She regularly communicates her research to the public via the media and has numerous articles in The Conversation.

Professor Burrows has developed a cohesive program of research on obesity and mental health over the lifespan ranging from preschool through to adulthood, with a particular focus on food addiction, biomarkers/validation methods and obesity management. Key research programs/ projects in dietary assessment include:

She has employed a variety of nutritional biomarkers sourced from blood, plasma and urine including carotenoids, red blood cell membrane fatty acids, doubly labelled water and metabolomics. Professor Burrows has overcome a range of methodological barriers specific to paediatric and international and disadvantaged or less studied population groups, indigenous, low and middle income countries to obtain nutritional outcome measures. 

Her intervention work in obesity treatment and prevention has been translated to a diverse range of population groups including indigenous and low-income families. One community translation study received an award from the World Health Organisation for Excellence in Obesity Prevention (2014). Internationally, she has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for dietary assessment research in Cambodia and Tanzania.

Professor Burrows' research expertise also includes qualitative work underpinned by theoretical constructs directly involving consumer groups, and applications of clinical imaging techniques such as fMRI (functional MRI scans).

Through her research and expertise, Professor Burrows has worked with the Medical Research Council, UK and consulted to the National Cancer Institute, USA. From 2011-2015 she co-chaired the Food and Nutrition Stream of the Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network (ACAORN). She Established the TRACE and ACERO research groups where she brings together a group of researchers and clinicians from a wide range of backgrounds uniting on key international efforts.

Professor Burrows has published >200 papers in international journals and presented at both national and international conferences. She has also received numerous research and mentoring awards including the 2014 Scopus Young Researcher of the Year in medicine and medical sciences and cited in the top 1% of most cited researchers. She regularly supervises a variety of Masters, PhD and undergraduate honours projects. 

Professor Burrows was part of the leadership team that undertook the systematic reviews to update the National Health & Medical Research Council dietary guidelines. She contributed to evidence synthesis and guideline development, which informed the writing of these national guidelines. In a similar role, she was part of the team that undertook the reviews for revision of the Dietitians Association of Australia Obesity Management Guidelines for Obesity.


Research Interests

  • Development and validation of dietary assessment methods, which assesses people’s dietary intake accurately to enable targeted feedback that is both practical and meaningful for individuals to make dietary improvements.
  • Nutritional biomarkers
  • Prevention and treatment of obesity with a particular interest in children and parental feeding practices
  • Nutrition and mental health


Future Focus

Improving people’s lives through better nutrition and dietary behaviours across a range of mental health conditions and settings.


Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian
  • Diet and nutrition assessment
  • Obesity and metabolomic health
  • Nutrition and mental health
  • Systematic reviews



  • Targeted Research of Addictive and Compulsive Eating (TRACE) research team (Lead)
  • Addictive and Compulsive Eating Research Organisation (ACERO) (Lead)
  • Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network 


Why did you get into research?

I have a great appreciation for science. Doing something I am passionate about every day that has the power to change lives for the better ... that's pretty amazing to call work!

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

My career goal is to become an independent internationally recognised researcher who produces high quality investigations to address diet and eating behaviours which can be used to develop or refine new interventions and angles to inform policies to improve the nutritional status and weight of populations. 



HMRI Research Excellence Award for Mid-Career Research
HMRI Award for Mid Career Research

Professor Tracy Burrows