The CTN offers condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. David Cooper.
Dr. Cooper dedicated his life to researching HIV as the founding director of the Kirby Institute, Australia’s leading institute for HIV and infectious diseases. He was known as the ‘architect’ of Australia’s response to HIV – and Australia has been lauded as a global leader in the fight against the epidemic. Dr. Cooper was an advocate for health as a fundamental human right throughout his life.
“The joy of working in HIV is the opportunity to meet with and interact with world experts in the field,” said Dr. Sharon Walmsley, CTN National Co-Director. “David was a major player in advancing clinical, science and treatment for persons living with HIV in Australia and beyond. I have lost a colleague, friend and mentor. Over the years I had many opportunities to share the podium, collaborate in clinical trials and discuss controversies in HIV with David and I will miss him deeply. We remarked on the challenges of clinical trials but also took pride in advancing the field.”
Dr. Cooper was among the first people to respond to the HIV epidemic in Australia. In the mid-1980s his research led to the first description of the seroconversion illness which accompanies early HIV infection for many people. He took a leading role in many of the early trials that led to the optimal use of combination treatment that has saved countless lives. As the director of the Kirby Institute, he was an international leader in research, prevention, and awareness of HIV. Under his leadership, the programmes involved training healthcare workers and health researchers, and advising governments on public health and clinical policy to increase access to essential medicines.
During his tenure as IAS President (1994-1998), he led the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, Canada (AIDS 1996). That conference, which presented the introduction of combination therapy, served as a turning point in the history of AIDS. His leadership helped usher in a new era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
In a press release, the Hon. Michael Kirby, a close friend and colleague of Dr. Cooper said, “David’s special gift was having both a huge intellect and a huge heart. It was his intellect that made him a leader in the global response to the AIDS epidemic and led to the building of the Kirby Institute. But it was his great heart that all who knew him, his family, his colleagues and his patients, could witness every day. We will miss him terribly and be all too aware of his absence.”
Dr. Cooper passed away after a short illness on March 18th, 2018, surrounded by his family at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia. He was 69 years old.