David Cooper Scholarship awarded to infectious disease physician Dr Gail Cross

News | Published on 29 Apr 2022

Infectious disease physician Dr Gail Cross has been awarded the inaugural David Cooper Scholarship. Thanks to generous donations made in memory of the Kirby Institute’s inaugural director, the late Professor David Cooper AC, the scholarship was established to carry forward David’s vision of equitable access to health and his passion for knowledge exchange to train the next generation of researchers and clinicians.

Dr Cross’ work focuses on tuberculosis (TB), HIV and COVID-19. She has previously worked in a number of hospitals across Australia including in Melbourne, Brisbane and the Northern Territory. True to Prof. Cooper’s legacy, Dr Cross has worked with marginalised communities, having completed a six month epidemiological study of TB in the remote Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea as part of her physician training. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Infectious Diseases), and has recently spent time in Singapore to undertake TB clinical trials research.

Dr Cross’ PhD research, based at the Kirby Institute, will investigate the efficacy of a new drug in the treatment of tuberculosis, which is a leading cause of death from a single infectious agent and necessitates a complex, six month treatment plan. The study aims to simplify and shorten TB treatment.

“We are thrilled to award the David Cooper Scholarship to Dr Gail Cross. Building on her significant clinical experience in infectious diseases, she is committed to improving health access and outcomes for underserved populations. The work she is undertaking for her PhD on optimising tuberculosis treatment for people in low- and middle-income countries, while using the opportunity to increase our understanding of the underlying biology, echoes David Cooper’s vision for developing a broad, robust evidence base that can be used to enhance access to new interventions that improve health,” says Kirby Institute Director Professor Anthony Kelleher.

Of receiving the scholarship, Dr Cross says, "To receive a scholarship in the name of Professor Cooper, whose legacy is the development of life saving HIV treatment through an inspired effort of world-wide collaboration, whilst fighting abhorrent discrimination against a community, is an extraordinary honour and privilege. It is this legacy, that improved the lives of millions to date and will serve millions to come, that inspires me in the work that needs to be done."