Top University of Auckland scientist awarded Marsden Medal

08 September 2016
Margaret Brimble
Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble.

A pioneering scientist and internationally renowned chemistry researcher has been awarded this year’s Marsden Medal for a lifetime of outstanding achievement.

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble of the University of Auckland has dedicated her career to the advancement of the chemical and life sciences in New Zealand, including break-through work in drug discovery and promotion of science both within the science community and to the wider public.

Her work on a drug treatment for Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopment disorder that affects mainly girls, is set to provide the first-ever cure for a disorder that affects the child’s development at around eighteen months of age.

The drug, trofinetide/NNZ2566, has gained orphan drug and fast-track status from the US Food and Drug Administration and is also being developed for treatment of Fragile X Syndrome, an inherited cause of intellectual disability particularly among boys, and as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury.

The New Zealand Association of Scientists, which awards the Marsden Medal, called Professor Brimble’s work on trofinetide “a unique achievement” and said she was an outstanding ambassador for women in science and science generally.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, offered Professor Brimble his warmest congratulations.

“I am delighted Professor Brimble’s scientific achievements have been recognised in this way, the Marsden Medal represents recognition by her peers of a career that has been truly outstanding,” he said.

University of Auckland Dean of Science, Professor John Hosking, said it was particularly pleasing to see Professor Brimble’s wide involvement in a broad range of science activity recognised.

“Her mentorship of younger scientists, her engagement with a wide range of communities, along with her support of women taking up science as a career, add up to a lifetime of dedicated service to science,” he said.

Professor Brimble is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Service to Science, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. She has been awarded the Rutherford Medal for exceptional contributions to science and technology, the Hector Medal for outstanding work in chemical science and the MacDiarmid Medal for outstanding scientific research.

She is President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Division of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry and was named an IUPAC Distinguished Woman in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering in 2015. In 2014 she was named winner of the Westpac Trust Women of Influence Award for science and innovation and in 2007 was named the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for Asia-Pacific. She has also received prestigious awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.


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Anne Beston
Media Relations Adviser,
University of Auckland.

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