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Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble receives Marsden Medal

12 September 2016

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble has received the 2016 Marsden Medal from the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) to honour her lifetime of outstanding service to science. 

Professor Brimble is a Principal Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre and an internationally renowned chemistry researcher based at the University of Auckland. She has dedicated her career to the advancement of chemical and life sciences in New Zealand.

Professor Brimble’s research has led to numerous discoveries, including a new synthetic peptide drug she has developed with potential to treat Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder mainly affecting girls at around six to 18 months of age. The new drug also has potential to treat Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause learning difficulties and cognitive impairment particularly among boys.

The drug, named Trofinetide (formerly NNZ-2566), is being developed by Neuren Pharmaceuticals after being granted Orphan Drug status for Rett syndrome by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA following Phase 2 clinical trials. Trofinetide has also been successful in Phase 2 clinical trials for Fragile X syndrome, and is being developed further as a possible treatment for traumatic brain injury.

Professor Brimble describes the drug development work as personally satisfying and something she never imagined she would do when she embarked on her career to be a medicinal chemist. Her latest work is looking at the development of cancer vaccines.

Professor Brimble is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. In 2012 she received New Zealand’s top science honour, the Rutherford Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

She is a passionate advocate for women in science and in 2007 was named the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science laureate in materials science for Asia Pacific. In 2015 she was named one of the year’s 12 Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Find out more about Professor Brimble’s work in her interview with Radio New Zealand's 'Our Changing World':