John Maddox Prize winners

2018: Professor Terry Hughes

Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a world leading expert on the Great Barrier Reef, was recognised for his tireless and courageous efforts in communicating research evidence on coral reef bleaching to the public and for tackling the misrepresentation of coral reef science. In doing so, he experienced hostility from politicians, public figures and the Australian tourist industry. In the face of efforts to discredit his research, personal criticism and smears in the media, Terry redoubled his efforts to communicate with the widest possible audience, using diverse means and reaching mainstream media around the world




Britt Hermes

Britt Hermes, a former naturopath, was awarded the John Maddox prize for an early career researcher in recognition of her advocacy and writing on evidence-based medicine – in particular her exposure of false claims made by proponents of naturopathy, which she has highlighted as both dangerous and ineffective. The judges were particularly impressed by her willingness to question her own views, the discomfort involved in communicating about the practices of former colleagues, and her continued commitment in the face of lawsuits and personal harassment.





2017: Riko Muranaka

Dr Murinaka in spotted shirt with dark blazer outside of red building

Dr Riko Muranaka is a journalist and lecturer at Kyoto University, she was recognised for her work championing the use of evidence in public discussions of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine. Her work to put the evidence for the safety of the vaccine clearly before the public continued in the face of attempts to silence her with litigation and undermine her professional standing. In persisting, she tried to ensure that a scientific account of the weight of evidence is available not only for Japanese families but for public health globally.





2016: Professor Elizabeth Loftus

Elizabeth Loftus with bookshelves in the background.

Professor Elizabeth Loftus was awarded the international 2016 John Maddox Prize for courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty and hostility in doing so. A cognitive psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, Loftus is recognised for her leadership in the field of human memory which continued in the face of personal attacks and attempts to undermine her professional status and research.


2015: Professor Edzard Ernst and Professor Susan Jebb

Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor at Peninsula Medical School, was recognised for his long commitment to applying scientific methodologies in research into complementary and alternative medicines and to communicating this need. Prof Ernst continued in his work despite personal attacks and attempts to undermine his research unit and end his employment.

Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford, was recognised for her promotion of public understanding of nutrition on a diverse range of issues of public concern, from food supplements to dieting. Prof Jebb tackled misconceptions about sugar in the media and among the public, and endured personal attacks and accusations that industry funding compromised her integrity and advisory capabilities yet continued to engage with the public and the media despite this.


2014: Dr Emily Willingham and Dr Robert Grimes

Emily Willingham, a US writer, brought discussion about evidence, from school shootings to home birth, to large audiences through her writing. She has continued to reach across conflict and disputes about evidence to the people trying to make sense of them.

David Grimes was awarded the prize for writing bravely on challenging and controversial issues, including nuclear power and climate change. He persevered despite hostility and threats, such as on his writing about the evidence in the debate on abortion in IrelandHe does so while sustaining his career as a scientist at the University of Oxford.


2013: Professor David Nutt

Professor David Nutt was awarded the prize in recognition of the impact his thinking and actions had in influencing evidence-based classification of drugs, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world, and his continued courage and commitment to rational debate, despite opposition and public criticism. Professor Nutt is the Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.


2012: Professor Simon Wessely and Fang Shi-min

Fang Shi-min, a freelance science journalist based in Beijing, was awarded the Prize for his bravery and determination in standing up to threats to his life to uncover clinics promoting unproven treatments, and to bring a wide public readership to the importance of looking for evidence.

Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, was awarded the Prize for his ambition and courage in the field of ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) and Gulf War syndrome, and the way he has dealt bravely with intimidation and harassment when speaking about his work and that of colleagues.