Image: Professor David Cooper (Courtesy Kirby Institute)
HIV research in Australia and globally has lost a giant and a pioneer with the passing of Professor David Cooper following a short illness.
The inaugural Director of the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity since its establishment in 1986, Professor Cooper is credited with diagnosing the first case of HIV in Australia in 1985.
Professor Cooper played a central role in running high-quality clinical trials for new HIV medicines in Australia, which ensured Australians infected with HIV had early access to life saving treatments.
He and his group played an important role in identifying lipodystrophy as an important side effect of protease inhibitors – a type of HIV medicine – and through his leadership at Kirby helped to develop research capacity in the field of HIV in Australia.
Professor Cooper was recognised internationally as a past President of the International AIDS Society and past Chairman of the World Health Organization-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) and for his studies of biomedical prevention and therapeutic optimisation strategies for HIV infection in the developing world.
He also worked with his colleagues in Thailand and the Netherlands to form HIV-NAT and undertake multicenter HIV clinical trials in Thailand.
An author on more than 800 published scientific papers, Professor Cooper was also a longstanding consultant physician to the HIV/immunology infectious diseases clinical services unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, which reflected a strong clinical commitment to his patients.
He was equally as committed to the many clinicians working in HIV medicine that he mentored and guided over more than three decades.
Professor Cooper was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003 for his contribution to medicine and HIV/AIDS research, and awarded the James Cook Medal for 2016 by the Royal Society of New South Wales for his outstanding contribution to science and human welfare.