Peter Molan

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Peter Molan

Peter Charles Molan

(1943-10-20)20 October 1943
Cardiff, Wales
Died16 September 2015(2015-09-16) (aged 71)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Alma materUniversity of Liverpool
  • 1.
Winifred Ruth Whitcomb
(m. 1963; died 1991)
  • 2. Alyson Molan
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Waikato
Thesis Respirometric studies of the metabolism occurring in saliva  (1969)

Peter Charles Molan MBE (20 October 1943 – 16 September 2015) was a New Zealand biochemist, noted for his elucidation of the medicinal properties of mānuka honey.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in Cardiff, Wales, on 20 October 1943,[1] Molan was the son of Vera Molan (née Boswell) and her husband Charles Molan. In 1963 Molan married Winifred Ruth Whitcomb in Cardiff.[1][2] They migrated to New Zealand with their four children in 1973, and became naturalised New Zealanders in 1977.[1][3] Ruth Molan died in 1991, and Molan later remarried.[3]

Academic and research career[edit]

Molan studied at the University of Wales, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with honours in biochemistry in 1965.[4] He then undertook doctoral research at the University of Liverpool,[3] where he awarded a PhD in dental science in 1969.[4][5] His thesis was entitled Respirometric studies of the metabolism occurring in saliva.[5] A lecturer in dental science at Liverpool from 1968 to 1973, he took up a lectureship at the University of Waikato in Hamilton in 1973, and established the first biochemistry course at that institution.[3][4] He rose to the position of professor of biological sciences (2003), and was the director of the Honey Research Unit at Waikato from 1995 until 2013.[3][4] He retired from the University of Waikato in 2014.[4]

In 1981 Molan began to investigate the antiseptic properties of mānuka honey.[3] His research identified that mānuka honey has significant non-peroxide antimicrobial activity.[6] He went on to establish a grading system, known as the "Molan Gold Standard", for the quality of mānuka honey, based on the honey's methylglyoxal content.[7] He also investigated the use of honey as an aid to the healing of wounds.[8]

Over his career Molan wrote or co-wrote over 90 refereed scientific papers and seven book chapters, and gave over 60 conference presentations. He was co-editor of two books on the use of honey for wound management, was awarded several patents, and wrote numerous magazine and newspaper articles.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

In the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours, Molan was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the honey industry.[10] In 2001 he was awarded a New Zealand Science and Technology silver medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand,[11] for "revolutionising the New Zealand honey industry and adding significantly to the value of their product."[3] He was twice honoured at the KuDos Hamilton Science Excellence Awards, receiving the inaugural science entrepreneur award in 2007,[12] and a lifetime achievement award in 2013.[13]


Molan died from cancer at his home in Hamilton on 16 September 2015.[3][14]


  1. ^ a b c "New Zealand, naturalisations, 1843–1981". Operations. 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  2. ^ "England & Wales, marriage index, 1916–2005". Operations. 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Burke, Roy (10 October 2015). "Manuka honey scientist Peter Molan dies". Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Brief CV for Dr Peter Molan". Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Catalogue search". Liverpool University Library. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  6. ^ Barback, Jude (October 2014). "Sweet as honey". Aged-care & retirement INsite. NZME. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Molan Gold Standard". Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  8. ^ Knox, Angie (8 June 2004). "Harnessing honey's healing power". BBC News. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Publications list for Dr Peter Molan" (PDF). Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  10. ^ "No. 54067". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 17 June 1995. p. 34.
  11. ^ "Medals & awards, 2000–2001". Royal Society of New Zealand. 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  12. ^ "University of Waikato scoops five science awards". University of Waikato. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  13. ^ "KuDos science excellence awards show Hamilton's strengths". Hamilton City Council. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Peter Molan death notice". New Zealand Herald. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015.