David Lubans

NHMRC Senior Research Fellow DPhil, MSc, BEd (Human Movement and Health)

An early career in Physical Education teaching sparked David’s commitment to his research passion - the design, evaluation and dissemination of successful school-based physical activity interventions.

His work is an antidote to the global pandemic of physical inactivity, the importance of which is reflected by his involvement in almost $30 million worth of research projects.

An NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, David has been a chief investigator on more than 40 school-based physical activity interventions that have benefited large numbers of children and adolescents in Australia and abroad.

Interventions are based on behavioural science theories and socio-ecological models to support behaviour change, and chances of success increased by close inter-sectoral partnerships with government and non-government organisations.

One of these interventions, the current iPLAY study, is being delivered in 135 primary schools in NSW. At a conservative estimate, this program will be delivered to more than 20,000 children.

“Ultimately, my high level goal is for all Australian schools to implement comprehensive school physical activity programs that provide opportunities for all children and adolescents to be physically active within and beyond the school day,” David explains.


Associate Professor David Lubans is the theme leader for school-based research in the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition. His research is focused on understanding the determinants of physical activity and the development and evaluation of interventions in school and community settings. A/Prof Lubans is currently leading a number of research projects designed to evaluate the impact of physical activity interventions on behaviour, fitness, movement skills and social and emotional well-being in young people. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and as a chief investigator he has secured over $2 million in competitive research funding. He is the Principal Investigator two Australian Research Council Discovery Projects focused on the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating among adolescents living in low-income communities. He is currently co-supervising 12 research higher degree students.

Research Expertise
Schools have been identified as key institutions for the promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles. In general, my research is focused on the promotion of physical activity and health among children and adolescents. A key area of interest is the impact of physical education, school sport and the school environment on health-related behaviours of students. Many of my current and proposed research projects aim to evaluate the impact of a diverse range of school and community based interventions designed to promote physical activity and prevent/treat childhood and adolescent obesity. Interventions are based on behavioural science theories and socio-ecological models to support behaviour change. My research also involves the evaluation of resistance training interventions designed to promote muscular fitness across a variety of settings in both clinical and non-clinical populations. 

Teaching Expertise
My teaching expertise corresponds with my research interests. I currently teach a variety of team-based sports, exercise and fitness, and physical education teaching pedagogy. 

Link to David’s current ARC research project.  

The Project Team is looking for schools and teachers to join our iPlay intervention, please visit: https://iplay.org.au/


  • PhD, University of Oxford - UK
  • Master of Educational Research Methodology, University of Oxford - UK

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