The Science Behind Sport

Situated in a small unassuming building in west London is a state-of-the-art facility where scientists are using cutting-edge technology to examine body and brain function.

This world-class lab is wholly focused on the science of human performance. Scientists in the GSK Human Performance Lab (GSK HPL) are gathering insights into the human body and brain. Their aim is to use these learnings to improve our portfolio of consumer healthcare products and inform our wider research, seeking not just to meet healthcare needs but to also anticipate them.

See our HPL in action during our Button vs. Brownlee challenge

It’s a proposition that a number of elite athletes have signed up to. Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, former light-welterweight world boxing champion Amir Khan, polar explorers Ben Saunders and Richard Parks and McLaren drivers and race crew are all research partners.

The GSK Human Performance Lab is a unique facility. Only elite athletes come through our doors, from current Olympic champions to record-breaking polar explorers. They benefit from better understanding their own performance, and the science behind their success helps us to develop products that better meet the healthcare needs of our consumers."

Charles Leslie, Head of the GSK HPL

There are obvious benefits for partners; they get access to in-depth GSK HPL analysis about their body’s and brain’s performance. This can be used to help improve the athlete’s individual training, competition, recovery and nutrition strategies and allow each to push through the limits of their performance.

But the research has the potential for much wider applicability. For instance, our work to investigate the role of protein in optimising muscle function and lean tissue mass could ultimately benefit groups like the elderly, who can experience challenges of frailty, tissue repair and muscle loss with advancing age.

We are working with several of our research partners to better understand pain management and movement in elite performers, which has the potential to benefit our pain management products.

This coming together of technology and expertise is also allowing us to explore entirely new areas of science and has piqued the interest of researchers in other areas of GSK, including teams developing new medicines. This has seen the GSK HPL contributing to a much wider GSK research project exploring the use of digital biosensors to monitor patients taking part in clinical trials.


of STEM workers outside of medicine are women

The GSK HPL also works with a number of external experts, world leaders in their fields, to ensure the Lab is at the forefront of performance science. Dame Kelly Holmes has been appointed GSK HPL Technical Advisor, to provide insight into the world of elite sport and ensure the lab’s work remains relevant to the needs of athletes.

Our final aim is to keep pushing the limits of human performance to help people do more, feel better, live longer.