Colin Whitehead was brought up in Edinburgh, Scotland, receiving his B.Sc, Ph.D and DSc. degrees from Edinburgh University. He joined the Poultry Research Centre in 1969 carrying out research in poultry nutrition.
An early success was establishing the aetiology of biotin in preventing broiler fatty liver and kidney syndrome. His research extended to many other vitamins, lately to vitamin D in particular. He widened his fields of interest to become an authority in poultry bone biology and has carried out extensive research on nutritional and genetic factors in body composition and bone abnormality. He has authored or co-authored over 350 papers in refereed journals and other publications. He is a former President of the WPSA UK Branch and Secretary of British Poultry Science and is Secretary/Treasurer for the WPSA European Federation and Chairman of the Nutrition Working Group. Active in conference organisation, he holds professorships at Glasgow and Guangxi Universities.