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Published 1 December 2012

2012 Sir Charles Hercus Medal

Professor John Fraser

Sir Charles Hercus Medal – for clinical sciences and technologies and public health: awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand to Professor John Fraser FRSNZ of The University of Auckland.

To John David Fraser for pioneering studies on bacterial superantigens which have major implications for understanding and treating a range of human infectious diseases.  Professor John Fraser is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. He is Deputy Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biodiscovery.

Professor Fraser is internationally recognised for his work in the field of microbial virulence and pathogenesis and is acknowledged as the discoverer of bacterial superantigens, first identifying them in the late 1980s. Subsequently he has determined their cellular targets, their molecular and structural features and function, and their role in diseases caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. His research has subsequently evolved into a broader programme investigating microbial virulence and pathogenesis of Gram positive organisms and the role virulence factors play in targeting various components of innate immunity, particularly neutrophils and opsonophagocytosis.

Professor Fraser is, however, regarded as the world’s foremost authority on superantigens and superantigen-like toxins and continues to make significant contributions to the field. He has trained over 40 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists and is an active and enthusiastic advocate for science in society. John has the notable distinction of being the first non-clinical Dean of a Medical School in New Zealand’s history.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi