First female to win prestigious award

20 December 2018
Professor Elizabeth Elliott awarded James Cook Medal
Professor Elliott has been recognised by the Royal Society of NSW for her outstanding contribution to human welfare. She is the first female to be awarded the medal since its inception in 1947.

Professor Elliott in the remote Western Australian towns of the Fitzroy Valley.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FAHMS is a Distinguished Professor in Paediatrics and Child Health at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, a practicing paediatrician and also holds a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellowship.

The James Cook Medal was awarded to Elizabeth for her significant contributions to improving the health, quality of life and human rights of ill and disadvantaged children in Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Her translational research has been at the forefront of advances in evidence-based paediatrics, rare diseases, gastroenterology, vaccine-preventable diseases and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Her research and advocacy into FASD over the past 20 years has taken the disorder from being a poorly recognised and misunderstood condition to becoming a major strategic focus for Commonwealth and State Health Departments.

Her work also extends into issues surrounding disadvantaged children in immigration detention, with rare disorders and living in remote Australia.

The James Cook Medal is awarded periodically by the Royal Society of NSW for outstanding contributions to science and human welfare in the southern hemisphere. Elizabeth is the first female to be awarded the Society's most prestigious medal since its establishment in 1947. The award will be presented to Elizabeth in May 2019.

Learn more about Professor Elizabeth Elliott.

Outstanding achievements


In May 2018 Elizabeth won the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Excellence in Healthcare Award for her pioneering research, clinical care and advocacy in FASD.

Learn more

In January 2018 Elizabeth was awarded a Next Generation Fellowship from the Federal Government for her research, she received the highest share of the $10 million fund.

Learn more

Elizabeth is the Chair of the Australian Government’s National FASD Technical Network, Co-Chair of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in FASD and Head of the NSW FASD Assessment service.


She was the lead clinician in the Lililwan study on FASD prevalence, has published extensively on FASD and contributed to the World Health Organization, NHMRC and Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) alcohol guidelines.

Read the Lililwan study

She received the RACP's highest award the Howard Williams Medal in 2017 for her contribution to paediatrics in Australia and New Zealand.


In 2008, Elizabeth was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to paediatrics and child health.

Related articles