2017 Australian of the Year: Alan Mackay-Sim
Griffith University’s Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim is the 2017 Australian of the Year, honoured for his pioneering work in stem cell research towards finding a cure for spinal cord injury and brain diseases.
Professor Mackay-Sim will spend 2017 fulfilling his duties for the Australian title while also overseeing several research projects at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery.
These projects include stem cell research into treatments for conditions such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the importance of research on spinal cord injury and brain diseases,” says Professor Mackay-Sim.
“About new treatments using stem cells and cell transplantation, undreamed of 20 years ago. And about how we must, as Australians, prioritise our spending so that we can afford to look after the diseased and disabled in our communities while also affording the research for new and radical treatments to reduce future health costs.
“As a nation we must be part of this. And we must invest in young scientists.”
Professor Mackay-Sim is a global authority on the human sense of smell and the biology of nasal cells.
He says the Australian of the Year award reflects the quality of research being done in Australia and will help raise awareness of the importance of stem cell research.
For example, researchers at the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research -- part of the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery -- are preparing to conduct clinical trials by 2018, focused on restoring motor and sensory function to badly injured people.
This research builds on Professor Mackay-Sim’s many years as a leader in the field. His example continues to inspire and inform.
Professor Mackay-Sim says continued support and funding will ensure this potentially life-changing work isn’t compromised.