World-leading researcher honoured for a lifetime of work with originate cells and the regeneration of the nervous system

Alan Mackay-Sim


Alan Mackay-Sim’ s accomplishments have been described as ‘ more impressive than man strolling on the moon’.
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

A biomolecular scientist whose groundbreaking research led to the first successful restoration of mobility in a quadriplegic man has been named 2017 Australian of the Year.

Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim led the world’ s first clinical trial using nasal cavity tissues to treat spinal cord injuries. The findings from that test led to world-first surgery on a paralysed man, Darek Fidyka, in 2014. Fidyka was able to walk again with the support of a frame after the procedure.

The accomplishment was described at the time by a British professor of nerve organs regeneration, Geoffrey Raisman, as “ more impressive compared to man walking on the moon”.

The prime ressortchef (umgangssprachlich), Malcolm Turnbull, presented Mackay-Sim with the award at a wedding ceremony at parliament house in Canberra on Wednesday evening.

Mackay-Sim, 65, is a worldwide authority on the human sense of smell and the field of biology of nasal cells, as well as the regeneration of the nervous program. He is the former director of the national centre for mature stem cell research at Brisbane’ s Griffith College, and throughout his career he championed the use of originate cells to understand the biological causes of brain disorders like schizophrenia and Parkinson’ s disease.

Now retired, Mackay-Sim was diagnosed with a rare and intense form of leukaemia two years ago, which is incurable.

In a profile piece published by the Courier-Mail last week, Mackay-Sim said: “ There are lots of fantastic biomedical scientists out there. ”

“ I’ m not into celeb, ” he told the newspaper. “ I feel I’ m just somebody who’ s come into the public attention, so I’ m now in a position where I can often recommend for scientists and all the hard and important work they’ re doing. ”

The Senior Aussie of the Year was named as Sister Anne Gardiner AM from the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory.

The 85-year-old was recognised for devoting sixty two years to the Tiwi community by supporting and marketing its culture and working to preserve its language.

The Young Australian of the Year was called as 26-year-old fashion designer and international business entrepreneur John Vasileff from Adelaide.

Vasileff stitched their first dress with the help of his grandmother when he has been 11. He graduated from Milan’ s prestigious Europeo Istituto di Design and runs the couture tag Paolo Sebastian, operating his business from South Quotes and employing local staff to create garments that have been showcased on international runways.

And V i cki Jellie from Warrnambool in Victoria was named Australia’ s Local Hero for 2017.

Right after her husband Peter died of cancer in 08, Jellie found his plans for a local cancer fundraising event. His dream had been to raise enough money to create radiotherapy services to regional south-west Victoria so that various other patients would not be forced to spend weeks away from home travelling to Melbourne for radiotherapy treatment, as he had been forced to do.

Jellie raised $5m from the local community and guaranteed $25m from state and federal governments. In July last year the particular South West Regional Cancer Centre opened its doors because of her efforts.

The chairman of the Nationwide Australia Day Council, Ben Roberts-Smith, said the those who win had made valuable contributions to medical science plus their communities. “ They remind us to wish big, work hard and believe in what you’ re carrying out, ” he said.

The outgoing Aussie of the Year, retired army chief David Morrison, utilized his final speech in the role to highlight problems of equality, including domestic violence and what he referred to as an “ unacceptable” gender pay gap.

“ We have, still, intangible barriers that will deny too many people the chance to reach their potential based on the majority of questionable of criteria – their gender, their age, their particular ethnicity, their sexual orientation or whether they are evaluated by others as able-bodied or right-minded, ” this individual said.

“ But my summary after this tumultuous year is that we as a nation make progress. It’ s never fast or far-reaching sufficient. But it is being made. ”