AIDS 2018: The global research community pays tribute to David Cooper

The late Professor David Cooper AC, founder and director of the Kirby Institute, was honoured at a special International AIDS Society (IAS) Members meeting and reception at the International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam overnight. 

The meeting was attended by IAS delegates and a number of special guests, including David’s daughter Ilana, along with colleagues from Australia and around the world.

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, President of the IAS, paid tribute to her predecessor in her opening remarks before introducing Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi from Institut Pasteur, France and Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, who remembered David Cooper as a hero in the international fight against HIV/AIDS. 

The delegation heard tributes from all facets of David’s professional life. The first came on behalf of the Australian Parliament, with whom David worked closely to develop Australia’s bi-partisan policy response to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, and was given by Senator the Honourable Lisa Singh. The Kirby Institute’s Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program and a long-time colleague of David’s, spoke of his strong leadership as a researcher and mentor in the field. “David was a leader in every possible sense of the word and he understood the need to bring together all sectors for the most effective HIV response. The policy-makers, the doctors, the pharmaceutical industry, and most importantly, people living with and most affected by HIV,” he said. “The Kirby Institute is David’s legacy, and we know that he would take pride in us powering forward in our mission of fighting infectious diseases”.

AIDS 2018Left-Right: Professor Sharon Lewin, Justin Koonin, Aaron Cogle, Professor Andrew Grulich, Hon Michael Kirby, Cipriano Martinez, and Senator Lisa Singh. Image credit: Justin Koonin.

Tributes also flowed from Aaron Cogle of the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and the Honourable Michael Kirby AC, David’s long-time friend, and after whom our institute is named. The delegation also heard from Dr Nittaya Phanuphak from the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, and daughter of David’s HIV-NAT co-founder, Emeritus Professor Praphan Phanuphak. Professor Phanuphak was awarded a UNSW Honorary Doctorate of Medical Science at the David Cooper Symposium in June. David nominated Professor Phanuphak for the honour.

The meeting punctuates the week-long conference for the Kirby Institute, where a number of our researchers have presented their work to the world. There were a range of poster presentations presenting work in areas ranging from hepatitis C and human papillomavirus, as well as public health and clinical presentations on a range of areas relating to HIV research. 

The Kirby Institute’s work around PrEP use in Australia featured particularly heavily. Among the presentations were Professor Grulich, who along with honouring David, presented his insights through his work on EPIC-NSW in the session ‘Eliminating HIV transmission is now a reality for gay men: What has worked and how do we replicate our successes for all?’. Mo Hammoud also presented his research on chemsex and safe sex practices that was published earlier this year. 

The 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) took place 23-27 July 2018 in Amsterdam. You can view a recording of the session here (30:18).

Date published: 
Friday, 27 July 2018