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Researcher and MND advocate named Citizen of the Year

Professor Justin Yerbury recognised in Wollongong’s Australia Day Awards

University of Wollongong (UOW) and Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) researcher Professor Justin Yerbury has been named Wollongong’s 2019 Australia Day Citizen of the Year.

“There are so many amazing people in our community that deserve recognition, so I am very humbled and proud to win this award,” Professor Justin Yerbury said.

In his acceptance speech at the ceremony, Professor Yerbury thanked Wollongong City Council and his friends and colleagues that nominated him.

“It has been a tough couple of years and I truly believe that the Wollongong community has supported me more than I could possibly give back,” he said.

“When we needed funds for our laboratory the community was there, when I needed a wheelchair the community was there with overwhelming support.”

Justin Yerbury Australia Day AwardsWollongong City Council Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery AM presents Citizen of the Year Award to Dr Justin Yerbury.

Professor Yerbury also thanked UOW and IHMRI.

“I have also had such amazing support from the University of Wollongong, and the IHMRI community.”

But the greatest thanks were reserved for his family.

“I want to thank my family who have always supported everything I have done including my daughters and my wife Rachel, who has advocated for me and fought tooth and nail for me, you are the strongest and most amazing person I know, and I would not be here if it was not for you.”

IHMRI CEO Professor David J Adams congratulated Professor Yerbury on the win.

“Professor Yerbury is an inspiration to his students and colleagues here at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute.

"As a tireless advocate for MND research he has not only raised the profile of the disease but raised awareness about the vital research he and his team are carrying out here,” Professor Adams said.

“Justin has been selfless in his pursuit of finding a treatment for MND sufferers while showing enormous courage with his own battle with the disease.

"Justin epitomises the calibre of researchers at IHMRI that continue to demonstrate the drive and commitment to make a difference.

“Professor Yerbury has attracted over $11 million dollars in health and medical research funding to the region and has increased awareness of not only IHMRI but also about the value of research in the region for the health and wellbeing of the community.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE said Wollongong's Australia Day award for Professor Yerbury was richly deserved.

“Considering his own condition is linked with his research work, he has demonstrated a tenacity and will to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles that is truly remarkable,” Professor Wellings said.

“He has made an incredible impact not only on the understanding of MND but also made a lasting impression about the value and impact on those people he’s worked with in research, taught in classrooms and met along the way.

“His professionalism, humanity and drive are inspirational to all of us.”

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