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The Liley Medal

Image of the Liley Medal (obverse)

The HRC established the Liley Medal in 2004, to recognise an individual or research team whose recent research has produced a significant breakthrough within the health and medical fields. The medal honours the outstanding contributions made by Sir William Liley while at the National Women’s Hospital in Auckland.

The Lily Medal is for a specific piece of outstanding work, and a lead contribution in health research that is internationally recognised. Work should be a game changer and genuine breakthrough, acknowledged by its publication(s) in internationally recognised journals of high impact, or be an innovative application of research knowledge to health practice. 

Call for nominations

Nominations are now being sought for the Health Research Council of New Zealand's 2024 Liley Medal. 

Eligibility criteria 

  • The award is for research from the previous calendar year; the 2024 Liley Medal will be awarded for a publication from January - December 2023.

  • Self-nominations are acceptable.

  • If the nomination is related to a publication, the publisher must have permitted dissemination. 

  • The eligible work must also have been carried out and published while the lead researcher was predominantly in New Zealand.

  • An accumulated body of work to mark a career contribution of translational research over a number of years does not meet the criteria for the Liley Medal (please refer to the Beaven Medal).

  • Nominees (individuals or team) are eligible to receive the Liley and Beaven medals more than once with a five-year stand down period following receipt of either award (for example, if awarded in 2019, nominees are ineligible, if awarded in 2018, nominees are eligible).

  • Current Health Research Council members are not eligible to receive any HRC medals while in post.

  • An assessing committee will be convened to discuss the nominations before making their recommendations to Council. The award is open for nominations annually but may be held over at the discretion of Council if it is deemed no applications meet the criteria. 

Nominations should include:

  • an electronic PDF copy of the full research paper, guideline or description of the innovative application of research knowledge
  • a cover letter (<400 words), including a brief description of the work and:
    - why the research is a genuine breakthrough in the field
    - its contribution to, and potential for impact in a research field or healthcare practice to improve health, quality of life, the economy and/or society in Aotearoa New Zealand
    - how the research has contributed to Māori health advancement
    - how the research has contributed to reducing health inequities and/or improving the health of groups or communities with evidenced inequitable health outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Nominations close at 1pm on Wednesday 1 May 2024 and should be directed to Dr Katie Palastanga via email at If nominating a colleague, nominators must inform the nominee. The 2024 Liley Medal will be presented at a Research Honours Aotearoa event held later this year. Accommodation and transport will be arranged for the recipient and partner (or two representatives from the research team).

Liley Medal - previous recipients

2023 - Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago, Wellington, and his team received the Liley Medal for their two companion papers published in the Lancet that represented a breakthrough in our understanding of the causes of acute rheumatic fever and the role of Group A Streptococcal infections. 

2022 - Jointly awarded this year to Professor Valery Feigin from Auckland University of Technology for the landmark Lancet Neurology paper that showed for the first time the global, regional, and national burden of stroke and its risk factors in all the world’s 204 countries, and to Professor Colin Simpson from Victoria University of Wellington for his role as a lead author of one of the first papers in the world to confirm the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. 

2021 - Dr Sarah Jefferies and team (Institute of Environmental Science and Research et al.) received the Liley Medal for their landmark Lancet Public Health paper analysing the impact of New Zealand’s response to the first wave of COVID-19 in New Zealand. 

2020 - Professor Mark Weatherall (University of Otago, Wellington) and Mr Mark Holliday (Medical Research Institute of New Zealand) were awarded the Liley Medal for their role on the Novel START study which showed that taking a combination inhaler as needed reduced the risk of patients with mild asthma having a severe asthma attack.

2019 - Distinguished Professor Ian Reid, Dr Anne Horne and their team at the University of Auckland received the Liley Medal for their ground-breaking osteoporosis research that could help reduce the number of older women presenting with fractures by up to half. 

2018 - Professor Cynthia Farquhar, Postgraduate Professor at the University of Auckland and consultant clinician at the Auckland District Health Board, received the Liley Medal for her breakthrough in showing the benefit of intrauterine insemination (IUI) for couples with unexplained infertility.

2017 - Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent from Otago University received the Liley Medal for his study showing a clear long-term association between a child's upbringing and the state of their teeth as an adult.

2016 - Jointly awarded to Professor Mike Berridge from the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and Dr Paul Young from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand and Capital & Coast District Health Board. Professor Berridge was one of the lead researchers in a landmark paper that demonstrated for the first time the movement of mitochondrial DNA between cells in an animal tumour model. Dr Young was lead author on a publication  that compared the effectiveness of the two most commonly used intravenous fluid therapies for intensive care patients.

2015 - Distinguished Professor Ian Reid from the University of Auckland for his outstanding contribution to health and medical sciences in advancing treatment of the bone disorder osteoporosis.

2014 - Professor Edward Gane from Auckland City Hospital for demonstrating a safer, more effective treatment for people with hepatitis C virus.

2013 - Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago, Christchurch, for his highly-cited research that revealed New Zealand's dramatic rise in infectious diseases.

2012 - No award made.

2011 - Dr Chris Pemberton from the University of Otago, Christchurch, for his contribution to health and medical sciences in the field of cardiovascular medicine.

2010 - Professor Stephen Robertson from the University of Otago, Dunedin, for his outstanding research which demonstrates the critical nature of developmental timing of key genetic events and will encourage new ways of thinking about cancer.

2009 - Professor Allan Herbison from the University of Otago, Dunedin, for his work that may lead to new treatments for infertility.

2008 - Jointly awarded to Professor Edward Baker from The University of Auckland, and Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman from the University of Otago, Wellington. Professor Baker has made significant findings that could lead to new treatments to fight the organism that causes Strep throat, Streptococcus pyogenes. Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman led the landmark Housing Insulation and Health Study, which showed people's health could be transformed by keeping homes warm and dry and has had a positive impact on housing policy in New Zealand.

2007 - Professor Innes Asher from The University of Auckland, for studying the change in prevalence of asthma, rhinitis and eczema in children worldwide.

2006 - Associate Professor Lianne Woodward from the University of Canterbury, for her work in predicting neurodevelopmental risk in children born very premature.

2005 - Professor Richard Faull from The University of Auckland, for his work identifying that, contrary to previously held views, the diseased human brain has the potential to generate new neurons and to repair itself in response to brain cell death.

2004 - The inaugural Liley Medal for Health Research was awarded to Professor Richie Poulton from the University of Otago, Dunedin, for his work identifying a genetic connection between life stress and depression.