Queen's Birthday Honours for Kiwi health researchers

Nicole Bremner
Source: 1News

A lifetime of service to health research has been recognised with Queen’s Birthday Honours for Dame Jane Harding and Sir Robert Elliott.

One of our newest dames, Dame Jane Harding, is a lead researcher at Auckland’s Liggins Institute. The neonatologist leads a team of 40 doctors researching better health outcomes for mothers, newborn babies and their families.

“Every time you care for a family and make a small difference it's incredibly rewarding,” Dame Jane said. “But if you get things right in the research, you can make a difference to thousands or millions of babies.”

Sir Robert Elliott and Dame Jane Harding

At his home across Auckland, Sir Robert is preparing to share news of his knighthood with his five children and 11 grandchildren.

Sir Robert pioneered the transplantation of insulin-producing pig cells into humans to treat Type One diabetes.

He was also the co-founder of Cure Kids and his research into A2 milk compounds led to the establishment of the A2 Milk Corporation.

“I didn't think much of the research myself but I took out a patent on it,” Sir Robert said.

“But once commerce got interested in the research, it has gone on to become one of New Zealand's most successful companies worth about $14 billion dollars.”

Both Sir Robert and Dame Jane are interested in the fight against Covid-19. Sir Robert is unsure whether the search for a vaccine will succeed.

The virus has halted Dame Jane’s research and she says it will take time and money to rebuild.

But today both are quietly proud of being new recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours for work in a field that is both challenging and highly rewarding.