amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Mourning the Loss of “A Life on the Front Lines of AIDS Research”

amfAR and TREAT Asia are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. David Cooper, a founding member of the TREAT Asia Network and Director of The Kirby Institute at the University of South Wales in Sidney, Australia. Dr. Cooper died March 18.

Dr. Cooper was internationally recognized as a pioneering researcher and clinician. He was among the first to respond to the HIV epidemic in Australia in the 1980s, and he has been central to the regional fight in the Asia-Pacific against HIV. Recognizing that diseases such as HIV disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities, he was a staunch advocate of health as a fundamental human right.

From left, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost and Professor David Cooper at the TREAT Asia Network Annual Meeting in 2015 
From left, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost and Professor David Cooper at the TREAT Asia Network Annual Meeting in 2015

He had a leading role in multiple major trials that led to optimal and early initiation of combination HIV treatment, including the identification of toxicities in some early HIV drugs and optimization of drugs for second-line HIV treatment. Among his many accolades, he was named an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for “service to medicine as a clinician, researcher, and leading contributor in the field of HIV/AIDS research and to the development of new treatment approaches.” He was also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, a Past President of the International AIDS Society, and a co-founder of HIV-NAT, a clinical research and trials collaboration based at the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre.

When amfAR was exploring establishing its first international HIV research activities, Dr. Cooper worked with now CEO Kevin Robert Frost to turn a vision into reality. Formally established in 2001, the TREAT Asia program grew into a regional network that today includes sites in 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific, and represents the region in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s International Epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) consortium.

Right up until his last illness, Dr. Cooper was leading studies and collaborations to improve HIV treatment in Indonesia and Myanmar. Professor Cooper’s many contributions to improving HIV clinical care and research in the region will continue to be remembered among the generations of HIV care providers and investigators he taught and mentored. 

See also:

The Kirby Institute’s memorial article, March 19, 2018

A 2007 interview of Professor Cooper in the TREAT Asia Report, “A Life on the Front Lines of AIDS Research

Remembering David Cooper (IAS statement)