Institute farewells a scientific hero

24 August 2010
Sir Graham Liggins FRS 1926-2010

Professor Wayne Cutfield, Director of the Liggins Institute, has paid tribute to the man for whom the Institute was named. Sir Graham Liggins, affectionately known by many simply as ‘Mont’, died in Auckland today.

“Mont’s contributions to modern medicine rank amongst the most significant breakthroughs of the twentieth century,” he said.

“The staff and students of the Liggins Institute extend their sincere condolences to Mont’s family and close friends. I am sure that I also speak for the many thousands of prematurely-born children (and their families) world-wide who owe their lives to the treatment that he developed. His work virtually transformed clinical neonatology.”

Professor Sir Graham Liggins was pre-eminent amongst a handful of medical scientists whose pioneering work in the 1960s and 70s established Auckland’s National Women’s Hospital as a world leading centre for the care of mothers and babies. Amongst his many innovations and achievements Sir Graham is best known for his discovery that giving steroids to women experiencing early labour accelerated infant lung development enough to enable premature newborn babies to breathe independently.

“His career was marked by innovation, insight and an extraordinary ability to grasp the importance of the unexpected,” added Professor Cutfield. “We hope that at an appropriate time in the future we shall have the opportunity to publicly celebrate Mont’s many achievements. He remains an inspiration to the researchers at our institute, for he was more than a brilliant scientist – he was a man of great humanity and humility.

“Above all, he was a man for whom family was of primary importance. We at the Liggins Institute extend our support and deepest sympathy to Sir Graham’s family in their time of grief.”

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Pandora Carlyon
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