Alan Mackay-Sim, an Australian biomedical scientist who specializes in adult stem cell research, was honored as the 2017 Australian of the Year. It is a clear-cut illustration of how curiosity and determination to excel can pave the path to a special national recognition.
Professor Mackay-Sim, 65, showed to all that being remarkable is earned. The Queensland researcher spent decades conducting research on spinal cord injuries.
Professor Mackay-Sim is a recognized global authority on the biology of nasal cells that he used in a world-first clinical trial to treat spinal cord injury. His research restored mobility to Polish quadriplegic Darek Fidyka.
Other Areas of Research
The Australian of the Year honoree also devoted much time investigating the biological bases of brain disorders and other serious illnesses including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and hereditary spastic paraplegia. The awarding of Australia’s most prestigious civic honor to Mackay-Sim underscores the much-needed support for science and research in the country.
Professor Mackay-Sim stated that the award is “a fantastic recognition of the things you do and the teams you lead and your contribution,” adding that it is a “very humbling experience.” The Griffith University professor also expressed hopes that the award will lead to increased awareness and funding for stem cell research.
There were other individuals who were recognized for embodying ideals like hard work hard and strong belief in what they are doing. Among them were Vicki Jellie who was named Australia’s Local Hero for 2017; Sister Anne Gardiner (e Tiwi Islands off the Northern Territory) who was chosen as the 2017 Senior Australian of the Year; and fashion designer Paul Vasileff who was chosen Young Australian of the Year for 2017.
Some detractors had earlier voiced out that the awards had become too political. Professor Mackay-Sim declined to comment on whether he was deemed the `safe choice’ in the wake of criticisms hurled by certain quarters towards the awards.