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Bristol obstetrician first female to be awarded prestigious science medal

News 4 December 2020

An obstetrician from Bristol is the first woman to be awarded the RCOG’s prestigious Eardley Holland Gold Medal.

The medal – which is only awarded every five years – has been bestowed upon Professor Jane Norman, of Bristol University, for her outstanding contribution to science, practice and the teaching of obstetricians and gynaecologists. 

Professor Norman’s research has, both in the UK and internationally, focused on understanding the causes of preterm birth and stillbirth (including pregnancy stressors such as obesity) and developing and testing strategies to reduce the devastating effects of these conditions on women and their babies. 

In Malawi and Zambia, Professor Norman and her team are training midwives and other healthcare professionals to scan women so they can determine how many weeks pregnant they are, enabling them to support women during pregnancy and help to reduce the risks of stillbirth and preterm birth.

Professor Norman studied at the University of Edinburgh before continuing to work in Scotland. In 2014 she become Vice Principal of People and Culture at the University in Edinburgh, before being appointed as Dean for the Faculty of Health Sciences at Bristol University in 2019.

Professor Jane Norman said: “I entered this field because to me it felt really important, you have a real ability to make a big difference to people’s lives. 

“As a clinical obstetrician, the thrill you feel being there at a birth never goes. It is really rewarding. With research, it’s so exciting discovering things that no one else has discovered before. We’re all putting tiny pieces of the jigsaw together but overall, it’s really meaningful and purposeful that can have a positive effect on people’s lives.

 “I feel really proud and humbled to have been awarded the Eardley Holland Gold Medal and be in the same ‘club’ as the previous winners who are all people I really look up to.”

 Dr Edward Morris, President of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

"We are delighted to award this prestigious medal to Professor Jane Norman for her outstanding contribution to science. Professor Norman has dedicated much of her research work to reducing the risk of stillbirths and preterm births – work that has been incredibly important in building a picture of how we can improve the outcomes for many women worldwide.

“What also really impressed us about Professor Norman is the work she does sharing her knowledge with the future generation of trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists.” 

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email 

About the Eardley Holland Gold Medal

Sir Eardley Holland was a Foundation Fellow of the College and President from 1943-46. In 1960 he entered into a trust deed with the College which established the Eardley Holland Gold Medal Trust, and appointed the College the sole trustee. Under the terms of the trust the College is to hold money transferred by the donor for the purpose of awarding in every fifth year a gold medal.

The award was first made in 1960 and since that date is has been made quinquennially.

The medal has been awarded to:

1960 Professor J C Moir

1965 Professor C H G Macafee

1970 Professor Ian Donald

1975 Professor Sir Norman Jeffcoate

1980 Sir Dugald Baird

1985 Mr Patrick Steptoe

1990 Professor Sir Alec Turnbull

1995 Professor Sir Graham Liggins

2000 Professor David Baird

2005 Professor Robert Edwards

2010 Professor Charles Rodeck

2015 Professor Kypros Nicolaides