David Cooper (1949-2018)

David Cooper (1949-2018)

Photo courtesy of The Kirby Institute

David A. Cooper, an internationally renowned AIDS researcher, clinician, and an Associate Editor of Pathogens and Immunity, died in Sydney Australia on Sunday, March 18, 2018, just a month shy of his 69th birthday. David was trained in medicine and immunology at the University of Sydney, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and the University of New South Wales. During additional training in Boston in the early 1980’s, David recognized the significance of AIDS and committed his energies to assuring that Australia was prepared to deal with the epidemic as it arrived. He and his colleagues built the HIV research and care programs at the University of New South Wales and St. Vincent’s Hospital and his leadership inspired a generation of Australian clinician scientists who established Australia as a major contributor to the international effort to understand and battle HIV infection. His insightful observations were among the first to identify the acute HIV infection syndrome and the occurrence of lipodystrophy in persons with HIV infection. He led numerous important clinical trials that brought normal or near normal life expectancy to persons living with HIV infection. Dr. Cooper was elected President of the International AIDS Society (IAS) for the terms 1994-1998.

Rabbi David Freedman, who presided at David’s funeral, described his life as Jonathan Sacks would have. As a scientist David took things apart to see how they worked, as a humanist he put them together to see what they meant. David was a pale giant, tall enough to be visionary, pale enough to be modest and unassuming. His vision transformed HIV science and care in Australia and throughout the world. In 1986 he became the first director of the research institute at the University of New South Wales which grew to become the Kirby Research Institute. The Kirby Institute, with more than 300 staff and students is dedicated to the understanding, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases, particularly those affecting vulnerable populations. He continued to serve as director of the organization until his death. David was the recipient of numerous honors including Fellowship in the Australian Academy of Sciences and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. He was an Officer of the Order of Australia and was awarded the James Cook Medal by the Royal Society of South Wales.

If he had a weakness, it was for family, friends, and food. His abiding love for his family was palpable. At dinner with friends, books, ideas, and science were discussed, shared, and criticized. Food and wine were no protection from his wit and insights. He was a charming and delightful friend.

David is survived by his loving wife Dorrie, his daughters Becky and Ilana and his grandchildren, Max and Teddy. David was respected, admired, and loved. His death leaves a void in the international AIDS effort and in our hearts.

-Michael M. Lederman MD


Submitted March 26, 2018 | Accepted March 26, 2018 | Published March 28, 2018

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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Copyright (c) 2018 Michael M. Lederman

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