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Professor Peter Molan

Peter Molan holding a piece of Mānuka.
University Professor

When asked what aspect of his work he enjoys the most, Peter enthusiastically says: “Everything!”

In particular, he likes teaching and working with bright, enthusiastic students.




As a researcher, Peter has spent the last 25 years investigating the wound healing properties of honey. In Peter’s lab at the University of Waikato they have shown that Mānuka honey is especially good at healing wounds. Recently they have used this knowledge to develop a wound dressing which has Mānuka honey incorporated in it to assist healing.

This research can make a big difference to the lives of patients, and their family...

Get focus story: Honey to Heal.

The remarkable properties of Mānuka honey are becoming well known world wide. This means Peter is in demand for interviews, and film crews are often seen in his laboratories. Every year he gets invitations to to speak at international conferences about his honey research.

As well as media attention, Peter gets a huge number of email and telephone enquiries from people who want to know more about the healing properties of Mānuka honey.

Peter’s advice has helped many patients with serious wound infections, which often have not responded to other treatments. As Peter says, this part of his research “can make a big difference to the lives of patients and their family and friends”.

Career Pathway

Peter grew up in Wales and went to Cardiff University. Initially, he couldn’t decide whether to study biology or chemistry, as he liked them both. He opted to combine the two, choosing to do a degree in biochemistry. It was whilst at university that he realised how much he enjoyed teaching and helping his classmates.

After getting his PhD, Peter worked in dental biochemisty at the University of Liverpool. He tested how saliva affects the growth of bacteria in the mouth. After a four-year lectureship position at the University he decided he had had enough of living in big, grey cities and wanted to move overseas.

Always scientific in his approach, Peter researched countries to help decide on a new place to live. He found that New Zealand fulfilled all of his criteria and quickly got a job at the University of Waikato, establishing a course in biochemistry. He loved living and working in New Zealand so much he has been here ever since!

Peter’s research in New Zealand has concentrated on substances with anti-bacterial activity. He has researched the anti-bacterial properties in bull semen, in yeasts being used to make wine, and helped develop a process for extracting anti-bacterial proteins from milk whilst working with the Tatua Dairy Company.

For the last 25 years he has focused on the anti-bacterial properties of Mānuka honey. Peter has found this work both challenging and rewarding. His lab leads the world’s with its research on Mānuka honey.


Peter likes DIY and often spends the weekends fixing up his home. These DIY skills, combined with an inventive imagination, have often come in handy for building new pieces of equipment for the lab!

Peter’s other interests are gardening and cooking. His scientific mind means that he finds himself routinely testing his ideas, or hypotheses, in order to understand exactly how things work. He has used this approach in many aspects of his life; from solving problems in his research, to making the ideal Christmas mince pie.


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