Richard Gilbert was educated at Stanford University, where he received his PhD in 1976, the same year he joined UC Berkeley as an assistant professor. He became a full professor in 1983. His research is in industrial organization and regulation with an emphasis on competition policy, innovation and intellectual property. He is currently a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics. He served as Chair of Berkeley's Economics Department from 2002-2005.
Professor Gilbert previously was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economics with the U.S. Justice Department and was Director of the University of California Energy Institute. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 1989 and was a visiting fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge in 1979 and 2006.