2023 Western Australian of the Year Awards

Professions Award Finalists

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The Professions Award is presented in celebration of excellence resulting in major social, scientific or economic impact at a state, national or international level.

Meet our 2023 Professions Award finalists:

Clinical Professor David Blacker

Clinical Professor David Blacker is a revolutionary neurologist who has dedicated his life to improving the lives of others. David’s efforts have focussed on improving the outcomes of people with neurological condiwtions, particularly stroke and Parkinson’s disease. He co-established the acute stroke team at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and has been a clinical researcher for over 20 years. Despite not having a PhD or major grant funding, he has conducted extensive medical research based on his experiences with patients and collaborations with colleagues.

In 2018, David received the devastating diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and began researching innovative techniques to slow its progression. He led the FIGHT-PD study of non-contact boxing exercise, which showed that high-intensity training for people with early Parkinson’s disease had a beneficial effect on their symptoms. He is an outstanding advocate for the fight against Parkinson’s disease, serving as a board member of Parkinson’s WA and regularly speaking to community groups about the benefits of exercise in treating the condition.

David is known for his exceptional commitment to improving the lives of patients and their families. He has a pro-bono clinic for younger patients with severe stroke and has guided the development of younger colleagues. He is also working to establish a Stroke Centre of Excellence at the Perron Institute in conjunction with UWA. David is a unique leader who possesses a strong sense of urgency in reaching his research goals and improving the standard of care for people with neurological conditions.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse

Professor Andrew Whitehouse is a renowned autism researcher, passionate about transforming clinical care for autistic children across Australia. He is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and a Professor of Autism Research at The University of Western Australia. Andrew has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Eureka Prize for Science in 2017 and being the youngest ever Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Andrew’s breakthrough discovery in 2021, demonstrating the benefits of intervention for autism as early as 6-12 months, has transformed international practice. He also led the creation of Australia’s first guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of autism in children, ensuring gold standard care for autistic children across the country. At the Telethon Kids Institute, Andrew leads a team of professionals creating and testing new interventions to support the development of autistic children in Australia.

Andrew is a leader among his peers, heading international research organizations in his autism field, including the Australasian Society for Autism Research. He has also founded and hosted major events for the WA autism community and shares his passion and knowledge of autism research on several related boards.

Andrew is a gifted science communicator, creating an award-winning science video series with over two million views, popular science books, and over 100 media columns. His passion for infusing science with compassion and humanity has resulted in a deep community impact on the 3% of Australians with autism and their families. Andrew’s ultimate goal is to celebrate autistic children for who they are, removing any barriers and negative perceptions potentially holding them back.

Professor Yogi Yogesan

Professor Yogi Yogesan is an unconventional thinker who has created life-changing devices and reimagined healthcare. He has received industry-wide praise and recognition, including the Western Australia Inventor of the Year Awards in 2006 and 2008, the Australian Telehealth Research and Development Centre Former National Research Director, and a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to Stanford University School of Medicine in 2011.

Following the tragic death of Aishwarya Aswath, who died waiting for emergency care at Perth Children’s Hospital, Yogi began developing an AI-embedded medical-grade wearable band that could track patients’ vital signs from the moment they enter the hospital until they leave. This amazing device has the potential to be used in hospital wards, nursing homes, and remote communities, as well as for post-operative care at home.

Yogi’s portfolio holds over 38 patents, including an eye test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. His eye imaging devices have also been used by NASA to evaluate the health of astronauts, and has recently adapted that technology to be used in developing countries and remote communities to prevent curable blindness.

Yogi’s pioneering research has earned him over $20 million in grants, enabling him to train the next generation of thinkers. Despite facing numerous obstacles, Yogi’s perseverance and willpower, along with his strong desire to stand out from others, motivated him to think both creatively and constructively. His achievements have made him a world authority in digital medical technology, and his life journey demonstrates his unwavering commitment to excellence and to improving the lives of West Australians and people all over the world.

Major Supporters

Celebrate WA wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we meet on for all WA Day festivities. We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this State. Paying our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.

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