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. As GSSI continued to grow, partnerships were established with additional top researchers and key influencers worldwide, helping to fulfill the mission of furthering research and education in the field.
The mission of GSSI is to help athletes optimize their health and performance through research, innovation, education and service in hydration and nutrition science. GSSI scientists continue to study the effects of nutrition on the human body before, during and after exercise. For more than three decades, hundreds of amateur, elite and professional athletes have participated in testing with GSSI and in studies with university research partners around the world. GSSI’s headquarter lab, mobile and satellite laboratories in Bradenton, FL and Frisco, TX, on the field testing and global staff enable GSSI to do leading research with the aim to provide athletes with advice and products that help their performance and achieve their goals.
GSSI staff scientists study the effects of exercise, the environment and nutrition on the human body using the latest scientific technology and equipment in the physiology, biochemistry, exercise performance, body composition and metabolism laboratories. The clinical labs in Valhalla, NY also include a state-of-the-art heat chamber. Historically, GSSI has also included sensory and gastro-intestinal physiology lab spaces and will continue to adapt and evolve its research capabilities in line with future athlete and business needs. The results of the research program have helped drive superior formulations in both taste and functionality, been presented at scientific conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. A complete list of journal publications can be found HERE.
GSSI also helps to support the scientific community and further research in the field by funding numerous external research studies at universities worldwide. Recently, and today, examples of clinical research partnerships include those conducted by academic groups in the US, UK, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to clinical research funding, more than 100 Student Research Grants have been awarded to research fellows and graduate students throughout North America, Latin America, Australia, Asia and Europe supporting research in a variety of areas. Similarly, GSSI also supports student and young scientist cohorts through extensive Conference Awards in North America and Europe.
Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s innovation mission is to be at the forefront of scientific discovery and its application to products, services, and technology benefiting athletes’ performance and/or health. This arm of GSSI supports the “Backed by Science” efforts of the Gatorade brands by ensuring efficacy of products and the language that is used to educate athletes and practitioners on their use and benefits. The innovation team not only stays up to date on the most current scientific findings, but also conducts research internally and partners with leading research institutions throughout the world to advance scientific knowledge in sports nutrition.
The GSSI innovation team is integral to the Gatorade brands’ long and short-term innovation processes and partners with numerous R&D and marketing teams during the development process. Our work may happen in the conference room, the lab, or on the field of play at our satellite facilities and sports partners. All of this is in service of developing the most efficacious products to benefit athlete performance and health.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Generation of new knowledge is only as beneficial as the ability to translate and share that information in a meaningful way. Therefore, a critical part of the GSSI mission is 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 first GSSI SSE was published in 1988 and the GSSI website was launched in 1996, and the generation of new information and tools continues today.
GSSI also partners with professional organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, with whom a partnership was established in 1989, and the European College of Sports Science, which began in 2012. As part of these partnerships, GSSI maintains a significant presence at their annual meetings to support the sports science community and help ensure a robust platform specifically for the science of sports nutrition.
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 hydration 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. GSSI has worked globally with hundreds of amateur, elite and professional athletes including those athletes from the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G-League, National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), NASCAR, Athletes Unlimited, Professional Golf Association (PGA), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), World Triathlon Corporation (Ironman), NCAA, Australian Football League (AFL), Canada National Soccer Teams, Canadian Football League (CFL) and international professional football (soccer), basketball, cricket, gymnastics, badminton, and field hockey teams and associations, among others.
As part of the development and continued growth of GSSI, several top researchers and practitioners sat on advisory boards providing professional insight on research topics relevant to 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.
Beginning in 2012, the advisory boards transitioned to the GSSI Expert Panel (GSSI XP). Each year a diverse group of researchers, medical professionals and/or practitioners are invited to participate. These individuals present at the annual GSSI XP meeting, author SSE articles, write review articles for a supplemental issue in the journal Sports Medicine and speak at various professional conferences and events. For more information on the current GSSI Expert Panel, please click HERE.
GSSI was led by Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, a renowned researcher and triathlete, from 2011-2014 and it was under this leadership that GSSI established its first Satellite Athlete Research Facility at the IMG Academy in Florida and also the GSSI XP. Currently under the direction of Dr. James Carter, since early 2015, GSSI continues to build on its rich history of research and education, as well as supporting Innovation for the Gatorade Brand and increasing services provided directly to athletes. In recent years, GSSI has opened up its second North American Satellite Facility, in Frisco Texas; re-imagined and re-positioned its IMG Facility; grown its impact globally through an expanded team and a robust network of International Advisors; and now has taken steps to expand its performance aperture to include that of mental performance.
Across locations, the goal of GSSI remains as it has always been – to help athletes optimize their health and performance through research, innovation, education and service in hydration and nutrition science.