University of Otago molecular biologist Warren Tate has been awarded New Zealand's top science honour.
The Rutherford Medal is awarded annually by the Royal Society and recognises a lifetime achievement in science.
Professor Tate received the $100,000 award on Wednesday night for his outstanding achievements in molecular biology and molecular neuroscience.
His body of work attempts to explain how proteins are built in living cells and has led to studies of HIV, Alzheimer's and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Professor Tate says he never dreamed of receiving such an honour.
"It's something that you never even think and contemplate as possible, and so it is a great honour to be given the award, particularly among one's New Zealand peer group because that makes it so much more special."
Another Otago University scientist honoured was Frank Griffin, who won the Pickering Medal for developing diagnostics tests that detect bacterial diseases in New Zealand deer.