Professor Justin Yerbury recognised in Wollongong’s Australia Day Awards

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and University of Wollongong (UOW) 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,” said Professor Justin Yerbury. 

The Wollongong-born local and former Illawarra Hawks player, has dedicated his life and career to research into Motor Neurone Disease after his mother, sister and several relatives succumbed to the disease. 

“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,” added Professor Yerbury. 

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

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

But the greatest thanks was 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 and Executive Director, Distinguished 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 (IHMRI). 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,” said Professor Adams. 

“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 who continue to demonstrate the drive and commitment to make a difference,” he added. 

“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 well-being of the community,” said Professor Adams.

About MND

  • One in 12, 000 people is affected by MND in the Illawarra.
  • MND is a degenerative disease in which sufferers lose the use of their limbs, ability to speak, swallow and breath.
  • Professor Justin Yerbury was diagnosed with MND in 2016.
  • Professor Yerbury underwent a tracheostomy in 2018.

Related stories

Professor Justin Yerbury wins MND research grant for 2019

Media coverage

WIN News 

Nine News Illawarra

Illawarra Mercury

23 January 2019: Editorial

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


Top photo: Dr James Turner, Professor Justin Yerbury, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury and Narayan Khanal. Photo supplied

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