Grant Schofield is the Professor of Public Health at AUT University and the Director of the Human Potential Centre which, upon completion of the redevelopments to the facility, moved to AUT Millennium in 2012.
The Centre focuses its efforts on using research to improve the physical health and wellbeing of New Zealand communities.
Put simply, Schofield states that he is interested in the science of human potential and helping people “to understand how to be the best they can be.”
It is an inspirational and crucial mission and Schofield leads a dedicated team of researchers and postgraduate students, all of whom are pushing boundaries to improve the lives of others.
Schofield explains that, thanks to the partnership between AUT University and Millennium Institute of Sport and Health in 2009, the Centre has gone from strength to strength.
“We are a research centre committed not only to simply producing research and developing theories of wellbeing and performance”, he states.
“For us being at AUT Millennium in the heart of a community is extremely important. It’s about doing the business with real people and getting real results every day.”
Research and education are seen as fundamental in providing people with the tools to live healthier lives.
Schofield is passionate about having a research centre embedded in a community organisation, allowing interaction with people on a personal level.
“It’s really the only way forward for real engagement with the communities that we are serving: health of the community and high-performance athletes,” he affirms.
“Simply to produce research which tells people the theory of how to be the best you can be doesn’t cut it. We get to practise this every day with real people.”
Since 2012 the centre has developed relationships with a number of local Auckland schools, community groups and insurance providers, as well as Pacific Island nations such as Tonga, Nauru and Kiribati.
In recent years the centre has focused its efforts on challenging common beliefs in nutrition, choosing to advocate for a change in people’s diets to incorporate higher levels of fat and reduce carbohydrate intake. This has earned Professor Grant the endearing title of “the Fat Professor”.
Improving the lives of children is another key research area, led by the centre’s Associate Director, Dr Scott Duncan.
The children and youth stream of the Human Potential Centre is dedicated to finding new ways to promote healthy living in young people.
The Centre has worked closely with schools to help them promote physical activity and nutrition and has a specific focus on preventing and managing childhood obesity.
Schofield has lofty ambitions for the future of both the Centre and the ability to provide services which are second to none in terms of helping everyday people achieve their potential, both physically and mentally.
“We want to develop our research arm further so that people are receiving the very latest treatment in the best possible facilities,” he says.
“That’s only possible by being a valuable and contributing part of AUT Millennium’s services to the community.”