Prof Gilbert has developed new experimental and theoretical methods for the characterization of starch and other branched polymers. These new methods open doors for understanding of starch structure-property relations, especially with regard to human health.
His reseach 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 will enable meaningful information to be deduced about the structure of starch from previously uninterpretable data. This will lead to new tools for food and agricultural scientists to devise novel plant varieties and food processing procedures, enabling farmers and food manufacturers to improve the types, production and marketability of foods with optimal digestibility characteristics such as low glycemic index. This will bring significant health benefits to Australians, because 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 primary and secondary industries will benefit economically as the products resulting from our advances reach the domestic and international markets.