Highlights //

Standouts on the science stage

In 2016, Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators received a number of national and international honours in recognition of their services to science.

Distinguished Professor Bill Denny was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry. Bill is a principal investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre and Director of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC), and has spent more than 40 years successfully developing anti-cancer drugs.

International award for New Zealand drug inventor

Distinguished Professor Bill Denny was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry.

 

Under Bill Denny's leadership, the ACSRC has to date brought 12 drugs to clinical trial. Hall of Fame inductees are nominated by their peers in recognition of outstanding contributions to medicinal chemistry through research, teaching and service. Bill is the first New Zealander, and one of a very small number of non-Americans, to receive the accolade.

Distinguished Professor Ted Baker, an emeritus principal investigator, was awarded the Lawrence Bragg Medal from the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand. The Bragg medal is the premier award of the SCANZ and honours the awardee’s “distinguished contributions to science involving X-ray, neutron or electron diffractions and/ or imaging” for work done primarily in Australia or New Zealand.

A number of Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators also received national honours throughout 2016.

Professor Tony Merriman, Deputy-Director Peter Shepherd and Director Rod Dunbar were elected as Fellows to the Royal Society of New Zealand – an honour recognising their international reputations in research and scholarship.

Principal Investigator Antony Braithwaite from the University of Otago received the Shorland Medal from the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS). The medal acknowledges major and continued research that has signifi cantly contributed to an understanding of cancer biology. Antony received the award in recognition of his work on the tumour suppressor protein p53 and other cancer associated genes.

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble was also honoured by the NZAS when she received the Marsden Medal for her lifetime of outstanding service to science. Margaret, a principal investigator with the Maurice Wilkins Centre, has conducted research that has led to numerous discoveries, including a new synthetic peptide drug she has developed with potential to treat the genetic disorders Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome.

Associate Investigator Dr Siouxsie Wiles also received national recognition when she was named a Blake Leader 2016 from the Sir Peter Blake Trust. The Blake Leader Award recognises inspirational leaders who have determination, a will to succeed and a belief in achieving extraordinary things. Dr Wiles is a microbiologist who uses bioluminescence to study infectious disease, and is also a renowned science communicator, with a regular slot on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme.