Perron Institute’s Clinical Professor David Blacker and Dr Adam Edwards are finalists for the Western Australian of the Year Awards led by Celebrate WA. 

Professor Blacker is the Perron Institute’s Medical Director and consultant neurologist and has been nominated in the Professions category. He is recognised for establishing gold standard care for stroke treatment in WA, and advocating for Parkinson’s disease as both a neurologist and a patient. 

Professor Blacker’s career in neurology has positively impacted thousands of Western Australians, especially stroke patients and their families and people living with Parkinson’s. He has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to people living with neurological conditions, and is an inspiring leader and role model with a reputation of going above and beyond for patients and their families. 

Regarded as one of the founders of interventional stroke care in WA, Professor Blacker established the acute stroke team at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) in 2003. In collaboration with colleagues, he built SCGH into one of the busiest interventional stroke services in Australia. He continues to be active in stroke research and is currently preparing to lead a national study of the neuroprotective peptide ARG-007 in stroke patients, after many years of collaboration with the scientists who developed this at the Perron Institute, and backed by Argenica Therapeutics. 

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018 he wrote and spoke openly about this life changing experience. He is a strong proponent of exercise for PD, and devised and conducted the recently published FIGHT-PD study of non-contact boxing exercise along with prominent boxing trainer Rai Fazio, and exercise scientist Travis Cruickshank from ECU.   

Professor Blacker has a unique perspective as a patient and a specialist in the same field. He is preparing a presentation for the World Parkinson’s Conference in July, to help doctors and patients better understand each other’s  perspective.  

“I have a special opportunity to improve care for many people, helping patients and medical staff communicate and understand each other better,” he said. 

Professor Blacker is a Parkinson’s WA Board Member, and has received a National Stroke Foundation Award for Excellence in Stroke Care (2018), and in 2020 as part of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Stroke Team, received a World Stroke Organisation Gold Angel award. 

Nominated in the Youth Category, Dr Edwards is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Perron Institute and UWA, and Neonatal Scientific and Regulatory Advisor at Argenica Therapeutics.  

Dr Edwards’ innovative research includes the development of brain-imaging techniques to diagnose brain injury and a drug therapy to prevent brain injuries from developing in infants. He is providing promising data for complex preclinical studies using a new drug therapy showing positive results in clinical trials for adult stroke led by Argenica Therapeutics. Since completing his PhD four years ago, he has secured over $6 million in competitive academic and industry funds.  

“I am establishing a multidisciplinary team to combine both drug and diagnostic techniques to improve the lives of vulnerable infants,” he said. 

“I have been provided the capacity to potentially make a change. I would not be fulfilled if I didn’t at least make a change for the better.” 

The nominations were announced earlier this month across seven categories, also including Aboriginal, Arts and Culture, Business, Community and Sport. 

The winners of each category will be announced at a special WA Day Festival awards ceremony to be held at Burswood Park to coincide with the WA Day long weekend in early June.