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Steven Joyce

21 November, 2012

2012 Rutherford Medal winner announced

Professor Margaret Brimble has been announced the 2012 Rutherford Medal winner by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

Professor Brimble, from Auckland University’s Department of Chemistry, was awarded the prestigious scientific honour during the New Zealand Research Honours Dinner at Auckland Museum tonight.

A medicinal chemist, who designs new chemicals for the treatment of disease, she is being recognised for her world-leading contributions to the synthesis of bioactive natural products and novel peptides.

Minister Joyce described Professor Brimble’s contribution to science in New Zealand as “truly immense”.

“Margaret’s work in the medical field has wide-ranging applications, from fighting cancer and treating Alzheimer’s, to the development of a new drug for traumatic brain injury funded by the US Army.

“She is widely respected in the international science community and is an important role model and mentor for many young Kiwi scientists. She established New Zealand’s first interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Medicinal Chemistry, and has supervised more than 100 graduate students - including 45 PhDs.

“Margaret has a passion for New Zealand and is committed to ensuring our science and innovation system fulfils its potential and delivers real benefits for the country. She is the embodiment of what the Rutherford Medal represents, and it is my pleasure to award it to her.”

The Rutherford Medal was created in 1991 by the Government.  It acknowledges those who have made exceptional contributions across a lifetime of research to science and technology in New Zealand, both in the fields of research and the promotion of public awareness and understanding of science.

Following the creation of the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes in 2009, the Rutherford Medal is now awarded by the Royal Society, along with a $100,000 prize provided by the Government.

Background on Professor Margaret Brimble:

Professor Brimble is currently a distinguished professor at the Department of Chemistry at Auckland University.

She has been the chair and a member of almost every major science board in New Zealand and is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Rutherford Foundation, a titular member of International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Organic and Biomolecular Division and Chair of the Synthesis Subcommittee. She is also a Principal Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre and Director of Medicinal Chemistry for Neuren Pharmaceuticals.

She is a member of International Advisory Boards for 10 international journals and holds research grants from New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and the prestigious Human Frontiers Science Programme.

Professor Brimble has been the recipient of many distinguished national and international awards, including the 2011 RACI Adrien Albert Award, the 2010 RSC Natural Products Chemistry Award, and the 2007 L’Oreal UNESCO Women in Science Laureate in Materials Science for Asia Pacific.

Over the course of her career so far, she has publish more than 280 refereed journal articles, 35 reviews and 18 patents.

She also established a national peptide synthesis platform for the biopharmaceutical industry and acts as a consultant for several biotechnology companies