A former Hawke's Bay woman has been internationally recognised for her work trying to find a cure or treatment for cancer, work that she completed in a language she never knew as a child.
Kate McGirr grew up in Marewa, but moved to Denmark 15 years ago, where she still lives in a small harbour town near Aalborg.
The former Sacred Heart College student started in the country as a cleaner and factory worker and gradually learned the language from her colleagues and those around her.
"It helped that I had worked in areas of Denmark where you definitely needed to know how to speak Danish to get by."
"A Dane's favourite thing to ask a foreigner is to pronounce a stewed strawberries with cream dish called 'rød grød med fløde' [which has a rough pronunciation in English of hreuth ghreuth midth fleuduh].
"Once you can pronounce that, you know you've got a handle on the Danish language."
After two-and-a-half years, she felt comfortable enough to apply for physio school - for free, just one of many things she likes about Denmark.
McGirr trained as a physiotherapist, going onto to a Masters degree in Clinical Science and Technology, which paved the way for her first job out of university as a clinical trial monitor.
"During my previous work as a trial monitor, I would visit hospitals performing research for blood and ovarian/endometrial cancers (immunotherapy and chemotherapy), heart conditions, pulmonary hypertension, amongst others, and make sure that the trials were performed in a way that protected patient safety, ethics and data integrity."
Now a trial manager overseeing cancer studies in Denmark and Norway, McGirr was recently named the PharmaTimes International Clinical Researcher of the Year.
"My mum was live-streaming it from New Zealand, which made me really proud, albeit a bit nervous."
With public hesitancy towards vaccines and "Big Pharma", McGirr said it was more important than ever to protect the rights of patients and to show that there is actually a robust system in place to ensure research is performed ethically and correctly.
She said she was "incredibly delighted and humbled" to win the award.
"I was up against many other talented clinical research associates from all around the world.
"I think it makes me feel more confident in my own role, that perhaps I do know what I'm doing after all."
McGirr said Denmark and New Zealand were similar in that they were both "innovators", despite being smaller countries.
She encouraged other people in her field to enter the competition and give it a go, adding it was "well worth it".
For students interested in the industry, she encouraged them to look at pharma companies in New Zealand not be afraid to ask lots of questions.
"There's a huge need for more clinical research associates in the market and business is booming at the moment, so it's a great career option."