The Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia has lost longtime colleague, professor Joep Lange, who was among the almost three hundred people on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border.
He was on his way to the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS2014, in Melbourne, which begins July 20. Professor Lange was one of a number of European researchers believed to be heading to the Melbourne conference on board the flight.
Professor Lange was a close colleague and friend of Kirby Institute director, professor David A. Cooper.
“Joep had an absolute commitment to HIV treatment and care in Asia and Africa,” Cooper said. “The joy in collaborating with Joep was that he would always bring a fresh view, a unique take on things, and he never accepted that something was impossible to achieve. Our joint work in Bangkok, the HIVNAT center, will stand as his legacy.”
Professors Lange and Cooper both worked in HIV research and treatment from the early years, and since the mid-1990s in resource-poor settings. They shared a specific interest in preventing HIV from taking hold in Asia the way it had in Africa. In 1996, from a conversation they had with their Thai colleague professor Praphan Phanuphak, the head of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, they moved to establish a research center in Bangkok called HIVNAT.
“The N is for Netherlands where Joep was my opposite number, head of the national HIV research center, the A for Australia and T for Thailand,” Cooper said. “And it has been so rewarding to have such success in bringing world-class research and world-class benefits to Thailand and surrounding countries.”
Joep Lange had worked in HIV research and treatment since 1983. He made far-reaching and ground-breaking contributions to the development of affordable HIV treatments, particularly combination therapies, for use in resource-poor countries. Another area of contribution was his pioneering role in exploring affordable and simple antiretroviral drug regimens for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in resource-poor settings. Both of these are part of his dedication to increasing access to effective HIV treatment.
At the time of his death, professor Lange was professor of medicine at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam and senior scientific advisor to the International Antiviral Therapy Evaluation Center, Amsterdam. He was co-director of the HIV Netherlands Australia Research Collaboration (HIV-NAT) and a former president of the International AIDS Society. In 2001, he founded and chaired the PharmAccess Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Amsterdam designed to improve access to HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries. He was a founding editor of the academic journal, Antiviral Therapy.