Two UNSW researchers have had their outstanding contributions to health and medical research recognised by the inaugural National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) awards.

Associate Professor Sandra Egger, from the Faculty of Law, was awarded the NHMRC Ethics Award for her research into the ethical healthcare of prisoners. Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the Faculty of Medicine, was awarded an NHMRC Achievement Award for her work on the epidemiology of illicit drug use and related morbidity, and on the co-morbidity between drug use and mental disorders.

The awards, which were presented in Canberra earlier this week, are designed to show the NHMRC's appreciation to the research and ethics community for their considerable scientific research, innovation and leadership.

NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson was delighted with the high calibre of candidates for the inaugural awards.

"Australia is internationally renowned for its contribution to medical science, and we have a long history of great achievement in the field. The NHMRC would like to recognise and thank those researchers for making outstanding inroads, and hopefully encourage the next generation to be the new great minds in Australian research," he says.