20 Mar 2018
Vale Professor David Cooper, AO – Kirby Institute Director, advocate and researcher
On Sunday afternoon (March 18, 2018) Scientia Professor David Cooper, distinguished leader and Director of The Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, passed away after a short illness.David’s life was dedicated to the prevention, treatment and care of HIV and other infectious diseases. He was an advocate that health was a fundamental human right, and his leadership as a clinician and researcher was extraordinary.
David’s record of clinical and academic achievement is unparalleled. In the mid-1980s, his research led to the first description of the seroconversion illness which accompanies initial HIV infection in many people. He then proceeded to take a leading role in the clinical trials that led to the registration of almost every antiretroviral. His work in low-income countries, specifically Thailand through the establishment of HIV-NAT at the Thai Red Cross, laid the foundation for a series of clinical trials that have informed optimal HIV management in many low and middle-income settings. Through his work in Thailand, he mentored a generation of outstanding Thai clinical trialists and scientists that are now global leaders in their own right.
David was working right up to the time of his illness, running large-scale international clinical trials to improve HIV treatment, building research capacity in Indonesia and Myanmar, and leading the trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to eliminate HIV transmission in New South Wales.
“David was an outstanding leader, academic, clinician, colleague and friend,” said Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute.
“He is known for his sustained high impact work in HIV treatment and prevention in every corner of the world. He was a true global leader and innovator. He was also a close collaborator with many investigators within the Doherty Institute and many of us will greatly miss his academic insights, friendship and sage advice.”
David was the inaugural Director of the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, founded in 1986, that grew to become the Kirby Institute and served as Director for the entirety of its history.