Malaysia Bagus News
A biomedical scientist who helped restore mobility in a quadriplegic person for the first time has been named 2017's Australian of the Year.
Prof Alan Mackay-Sim, from Queensland, has spent decades researching spinal cord injuries.
A leader in stem cell research, Prof Mackay-Sim's work has been credited with prompting groundbreaking advances.
Australia's most prestigious civic honour is awarded each year to a person considered a national role model.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented Prof Mackay-Sim with the award at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday.
The Griffith University emeritus professor was honoured ahead of finalists from the seven other states and territories, including refugee and lawyer Deng Adut, who had been considered the frontrunner.
Breakthrough researchProf Mackay-Sim has been described as a global authority on the biology of nasal cells, which he used in a world-first clinical trial to treat spinal cord injury.
According to Griffith University, the trial was central to a 2014 operation that restored mobility to Polish man Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down after a knife attack.
Prof Mackay-Sim also spent a decade as director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research, investigating the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases including schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease and hereditary spastic paraplegia.
Passing the batonProf Mackay-Sim succeeds former army chief and equality advocate David Morrison, who has used his platform to promote diversity and inclusion.
In his final speech as Australian of the Year on Wednesday, Mr Morrison highlighted domestic violence and the gender pay gap as issues that still challenged the nation.
He also rejected criticism the awards had become too political.
"The award of Australian of the Year is not without its critics," he said.
"But I think it is one of the ways we, as citizens of this great country, can for a moment or hopefully longer focus on what makes us who we are."
The Australian of the Year awards are announced on the eve of Australia Day each year.
Other recent winners include Rosie Batty, an anti-domestic violence campaigner, Adam Goodes, a sportsman and advocate for indigenous and youth issues, and Ita Buttrose, a media personality who has championed education and health.