New NHMRC award honours the late Professor David Cooper

News | Published on 08 Apr 2022

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has established the NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award. 

Announced at the annual Research Excellence Awards, the award recognises the highest ranked recipient in the NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant scheme. It is named to honour the achievements of the Kirby Institute’s inaugural director, Professor David Cooper AC and his leadership of clinical trials and work with affected communities, which made a lasting contribution to the treatment of HIV in Australia and around the world. 

University of Sydney affiliate Professor Trevor Leong from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre was named the inaugural recipient of the David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award. His research investigates the use of chemoradiotherapy versus chemotherapy for patients with gastric cancer. Professor Leong is leading the Australian-led, international “TOPGEAR” Phase III trial in partnership with the University of Sydney’s NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre and the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group.

Professor Cooper’s family – his wife, Dorrie Cooper and daughters Bec and Ilana Cooper – were in attendance at the ceremony, held in Canberra last week. “We are very proud that this award has been established in David’s name,” says Mrs Cooper. “We are so grateful to the NHMRC for the wonderful tribute at the Research Excellence Awards ceremony. David appreciated the support of the NHMRC which made so much of the Kirby Institute’s work possible, and we know he would have been honoured to be recognised in this way.”

Professor Anne Kelso AO, NHMRC CEO, said “Professor Cooper was both an outstanding clinical researcher and a person of deep humanity who earned the trust of a community in shock and grief in the early days of the HIV pandemic. With him, local patients took part in clinical trials that would radically improve treatments in Australia and internationally.

“The story of Professor Cooper’s research is a compelling reminder of the contribution that affected communities and researchers working together make to advances in health care. 

“Today’s NHMRC Research Excellence Award recipients are our present and future research leaders. They follow in the footsteps of earlier giants of Australian research as they seek to understand and solve the health challenges that face our community today.”