Highlights //

International and national awards 2019

In yet another successful year, Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators have been recognised on the national and international stage for their contributions to science.


(l-r, t-b) Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble, Associate Professor Ros Kemp, Associate Professor Nuala Helsby,  Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Greg Cook, Professor Jillian Cornis, Professor Nicola Dalbeth,  Professor Julia Horsfield

2019 Awards and Honours

The year started with Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble from the University of Auckland being honoured as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on New Year’s Day, for services to science. Then in August Professor Brimble was inducted into the American Chemical Society MEDI Hall of Fame in 20191. Inductees are acknowledged for their significant contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry, naming her alongside world-class drug inventors and Nobel Prize winners. Professor Brimble was the second New Zealander to receive this exclusive accolade, where she was recognised for her work in drug discovery and commercialisation, numerous high-profile awards and significant publication and patent outputs. Distinguished Professor Bill Denny, a founding Principal Investigator of the MWC, was a 2016 inductee.

Professor Brimble also received several national awards in 2019; the Kiwinet BNZ Supreme Award and Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award, which recognise overall commercialisation excellence and outstanding contributions to business innovation in New Zealand, and the 2019 Zonta New Zealand Women of Achievement Award, which celebrates “women who have empowered women and girls within New Zealand and/or globally”.

Associate Professor Roslyn Kemp, from the University of Otago, was re-elected Secretary-General of the International Union of Immunology Societies (IUIS) for a second term, recognising the work she has done since 2016. As part of a five person leadership team, she will liaise between IUIS, the World Health Organisation and the International Science Council2.

In 2019, University of Auckland Associate Professor Nuala Helsby was made a Fellow of the British Pharmacology Society, acknowledging individuals who make significant contributions in areas of Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. This fellowship adds to her international profile, including being the Vice Chair for the Drug Metabolism and Drug Transport sub-committee of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and her role as Executive editor for the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Closer to home, Professor Greg Cook was appointed as one of the inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chairs at the University of Otago, as part of the 150th year celebrations. The new chairs highlight scholars who are internationally pre-eminent in their fields and have a strong record of leadership and service.

Professors Jillian Cornish and Nicola Dalbeth from the University of Auckland, were both invited to be Royal Society Te Apārangi Fellows, acknowledging their contribution to science in New Zealand. Professor Cornish is recognised as an international leader in bone biology, where her work focuses understanding the pathways that contribute to normal bone growth. Professor Dalbeth is an expert in gout and applies her clinical background to investigate the functional implications of the condition.

Professor Julia Horsfield from the University of Otago was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award, which helps enable New Zealand scientists to carry out their research at institutions in the US. Julia will use her award to travel to the University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Davis, where she will assess how cell fate decisions are made in a zebrafish model utilising single-cell sequencing.