History of GSSI
The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) has a long history of sports science research, education, and testing athletes to help them get the most out of their bodies. The Gatorade Exercise Physiology Lab was established in 1985 by Dr. Robert Murray as part of the Quaker Oats R&D facility in Barrington, IL. Expansion to the Sports Science Institute followed shortly after in 1988 with the goals of expanding knowledge and sharing information on sports nutrition and exercise science to enhance the performance and well-being of athletes. Key to the development of GSSI were collaborations with top researchers at Ohio State University, Yale University, the University of Texas, and the University of Iowa and in Canada, the University of Guelph. As GSSI continued to grow, partnerships were established with top researchers and key influencers worldwide, helping to fulfill the mission of furthering research and education in the field.
In Barrington, GSSI staff scientists studied the effects of exercise, the environment, and nutrition on the human body using the latest scientific technology and equipment in the physiology, biochemistry and exercise sensory/hedonic response labs. Over the years, the facilities were updated to include laboratory space specific for exercise performance, body composition, metabolism, and gastrointestinal physiology. The results of the research program have been presented at scientific conferences, published in peer-reviewed journals, and have helped drive superior formulations in both taste and functionality. A complete list of journal publications can be found on this website.
Beyond the laboratory walls of Barrington, GSSI has helped to support the scientific community and further research in the field by funding numerous external research studies at universities worldwide. Part of that funding included maintaining a yearly competitive student grant program. Over 300 student projects have been funded, including Canadian projects, and the program continues today.
In Canada, GSSI has partnered with the University of Guelph for over a decade to explore the role of hydration and nutrition in hockey through research, including athlete testing. This research has focused on and continues to investigate fluid loss and the impact of dehydration on on-ice performance. GSSI has tested a number of hockey players at the World Junior, Canadian Hockey League (CHL), and National Hockey League (NHL) levels to help them understand their fluid and electrolyte losses. The results of this research and testing, have contributed to the scientific literature and been used to inform athletes and influencers through educational programs such as the annual Gatorade hockey summit.
In addition to furthering knowledge through clinical research in the laboratory, GSSI partnered with athletic trainers, physicians, and other key influencers to establish a Field Testing Program, which ran from 1999-2006. The focus of the program was primarily to understand the implications of fluid and electrolyte losses on thermoregulation, performance, and muscle cramping. Athletes were evaluated on the field of play (their real-life lab) for real-time data collection and to provide them with experiential learning about their individual needs. This program was the precursor to the current athlete testing service program, which provides information to athletes on their physiology, hydration and sports nutrition needs.
Education & Outreach
Generation of new knowledge is only as beneficial as the ability to translate and share that information in a meaningful way. Therefore, the second part of the mission has been to share knowledge, educating influencers and sports health professionals in the area of sports science and sports nutrition. As a result, GSSI was the one of the first such organizations to provide a robust library of learning materials including tips & handouts, posters, e-Newsletters, Sports Science Exchange (SSE) articles, and Performance Playbooks, establishing the Institute as a go-to resource. The GSSI website was launched in 1996, the first SSE was published in 1988, and the generation of new information and tools continues today.
GSSI also partners with professional organizations (see the list of affiliations on this website). One of the longest running such affiliations is with the American College of Sports Medicine, with whom a partnership was established in 1989. As part of that partnership, GSSI maintains a significant presence at the annual meeting to support the sports science community.
As part of the development and continued growth, GSSI was advised by several boards of top researchers and practitioners who provided advice and information on research topics relevant to the GSSI's mission and offered direction on future educational offerings. Beginning in 1987 these board members and other invitees participated in the GSSI Summer Conferences, the outcomes of which are published in the Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine book series (Cooper Publishing Group, 1988-99). This 12 volume series aimed to further the education of athletic trainers, coaches, exercise physiologists, and athletes, as well as advance further scientific inquiry. The Perspective series covered topics such as fuel for sport performance, hydration, ergogenic aids, cardiovascular and other health problems in athletes, immune function, overtraining, and recovery from injury.
At present there is no GSSI advisory board but a yearly rotating GSSI Expert Panel (GSSIXP), chaired by Professor Lawrence Spriet. Proceedings of this meeting are published as an annual supplement in Sports Medicine.
Under the direction of Global Senior Director Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, GSSI continues to build on its rich history of research and education, as well as increasing the services provided directly to athletes. Recently the laboratories of GSSI have expanded beyond Barrington to a location at IMG Academies in Bradenton, FL (2011). GSSI also maintains relationships with top researchers and practitioners in the sport sciences, and several serve to advise the team as part of the GSSI Expert Panel. Through the headquarters in Barrington and the global satellite locations, GSSI remains committed to research and education, as well as serving athletes to continue on the mission of improved athletic performance.