Prof Sir Peter David Gluckman


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Director - Centre for SPDS


Professor Peter Gluckman’s research focuses on what gives us a healthy start to life: understanding how a baby’s environment between conception and birth determines its childhood development and life-long health - and the impact that this knowledge has for individuals and whole populations.

His research has won him numerous awards and international recognition including Fellowship of the Commonwealth’s most prestigious scientific organisation, The Royal Society (London). He is the only New Zealander elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science (USA) and the Academy of Medical Sciences of Great Britain.

In 2009 he became a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit replacing the 2008 Distinguished Companion of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to medicine and having previously been made a Companion of the Order in 1997. In 2001 he received New Zealand’s top science award, the Rutherford Medal.

He resigned from his directorships of the Liggins Institute and the National Research Centre of Growth and Development (NRCGD) (now Gravida) to avoid potential conflicts of interest in taking up his part time appointment as the first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 01 July 2009. He continues to be based in the Liggins Institute as an active researcher and member of the Institute.

A University of Auckland Distinguished Professor, he is Professor of Paediatric and Perinatal Biology. He was formerly Chairman of the Department of Paediatrics and Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences for nine years. He has been extensively involved in many aspects of science, health and educational policy development.

Professor Gluckman is an international advocate for science, promoting the translation of discoveries in biomedical research into improvements in long term health outcomes. His work with organisations such as the WHO has brought growing recognition of the importance of a healthy start to life.

He is the author of over 500 scientific papers and reviews and editor of eight books, including two influential textbooks in his subject area.

He is passionate about communicating a better understanding of science in the community and, with colleague Mark Hanson of The University of Southampton, has co-authored two books for non-scientific audiences: The Fetal Matrix (2004) which summarises his ideas on how events in early life lead to altered disease risk in later life and Mismatch - why our world no longer fits our bodies (2006).

Mismatch explains how our efforts to make our lives more comfortable have, in fact, worked against us and that many of our current social and health problems - such as the current obesity epidemic, and its consequences including diabetes and heart disease, are the result of our bodies not keeping pace with the rate at which we have redesigned the world we now inhabit.

With Hanson and Dr Alan Beedle he is co-author of the first text book and organised summary of evolutionary medicine Principles of Evolutionary Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2009), published 200 years after Charles Darwin's birth.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Gluckman, P. D., Hanson, M. A., & Low, F. M. (2019). Evolutionary and developmental mismatches are consequences of adaptive developmental plasticity in humans and have implications for later disease risk. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 374 (1770)10.1098/rstb.2018.0109
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Felicia Low
  • Tint, M. T., Chang, H. F., Wong, G., Chu, A., Tull, D., Nijagal, B., ... Chi, C. (2019). Can Placental Inositol (PI) Suppress the Pro-Adipogenic Effects of Maternal Glycaemia in the Fetus?. Paper presented at 66th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society-for-Reproductive-Investigation (SRI), Paris, FRANCE. 12 March - 16 March 2019. REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCES. (pp. 1).
  • Wlodek, M. E., Michael, N., Sadananthan, S., Tint, M., Lun, Y., Tan, K., ... Marielle, F. (2019). Relations of Poor Fetal Growth with Kidney Volumes and Child Blood Pressure.. Paper presented at 66th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society-for-Reproductive-Investigation (SRI), Paris, FRANCE. 12 March - 16 March 2019. REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCES. (pp. 1).
  • Sadananthan, S. A., Tint, M. T., Michael, N., Aris, I. M., Loy, S. L., Lee, K. J., ... Godfrey, K. M. (2019). Association Between Early Life Weight Gain and Abdominal Fat Partitioning at 4.5 Years is Sex, Ethnicity, and Age Dependent. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 27 (3), 470-478. 10.1002/oby.22408
  • Wu, Y., Lin, X., Lim, I. Y., Chen, L., Teh, A. L., MacIsaac, J. L., ... Gluckman, P. D. (2019). Analysis of two birth tissues provides new insights into the epigenetic landscape of neonates born preterm. Clinical epigenetics, 11 (1)10.1186/s13148-018-0599-4
  • Loo, E. X. L., Tham, E. H., Phang, K. W., Goh, A., Teoh, O. H., Chong, Y. S., ... Lee, B. W. (2019). Associations between maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy and allergic outcomes in the offspring in the first 5 years of life. Pediatric allergy and immunology : official publication of the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 30 (1), 117-122. 10.1111/pai.12995
  • Pang, W. W., Tan, P. T., Cai, S., Fok, D., Chua, M. C., Lim, S. B., ... Yap, F. (2019). Nutrients or nursing? Understanding how breast milk feeding affects child cognition. European Journal of Nutrition10.1007/s00394-019-01929-2
  • Lillycrop, K. A., Garratt, E. S., Titcombe, P., Melton, P. E., Murray, R. J. S., Barton, S. J., ... Hopkins, J. C. (2019). Differential SLC6A4 methylation: a predictive epigenetic marker of adiposity from birth to adulthood. International Journal of Obesity10.1038/s41366-018-0254-3

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 0, Room 005
New Zealand