The head of the fertility regulator is among a number of health experts recognised in the New Year honours.
Suzi Leather has been chair of the HFEA since 2002
Suzi Leather, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority since 2002, said she was "delighted" after she was made a Dame.
Her tenure has coincided with one of the most controversial periods for fertility treatment.
Two senior doctors have been knighted, as has Stephen Moss, ex-nursing chief at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.
Dame Suzi is honoured after guiding the HFEA at a time when medical advances have raised a series of ethical questions about fertility treatment and embryo research.
She is also in charge of improving school meals.
In August, the government launched a review of the laws, including the whole remit of HEFA.
But Dame Suzi has also worked in a diverse range of health-related fields over her career.
She was appointed as chair of the School Meals Review Panel in the summer and charged with driving up school meal standards, following a campaign by TV chef Jamie Oliver.
She has also worked for the Food Standards Agency and chaired an NHS trust.
She said: "Personally I am delighted and touched to receive this honour.
"It is recognition of the importance of the work that I have been involved in."
Experienced neurosurgeon Professor Graham Teasdale, the president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and Professor Nicholas Wright, head of the Queen Mary School of Medicine in London, were both given knighthoods.
Professor Wright, who is a cancer specialist and was director of clinical research at what is now Cancer Research UK for seven years during the 1990s, said: "It has really come out of the blue.
"I guess it is a reward for years of effort and hard work in medicine."
Among the front-line NHS staff recognised was Mary Naughton, chief nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who becomes a CBE.
Other CBEs in the health field included Royal College of Nursing president Sylvia Denton, Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman and mental health tzar Louis Appleby.
Ms Denton, who has worked in nursing for over 45 years, had already been made an OBE in the mid-1990s.
She works as senior clinical nurse specialist in the breast unit at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London alongside her RCN role.
She said: "I am delighted. I think the award helps raise the profile of nursing and that is the important thing."
Professor Appleby has held the government mental health post since 2000 during a period when mental health issues have taken a more prominent role in policy making.
He also combines the duties with his work as professor or psychiatry at the University of Manchester.