Professor David Cooper posthumously appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)

Media release | Published on 11 Jun 2018

(Sydney, Monday 11 June 2018) The late Scientia Professor David Cooper, who was Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney for 32 years, has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). He has been recognised for eminent service to medicine, particularly in HIV/AIDS research, as a clinician, scientist and administrator, to the development of therapies and to health programs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Professor Cooper passed away in March this year after a short illness. He was 68. A public memorial for Professor Cooper is being held at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 14 June 2018.

His wife, Mrs Dorrie Cooper said that her husband would have been honoured to receive this acknowledgement of his service to Australia.  “David was a humble man and a quiet achiever, but he was so proud to receive the AO back in 2003. He regarded it as one of his greatest honours; his medal still hangs on his office wall, and he wore his gold pin with pride. It is a tragedy that he isn’t here today to receive this award. But on his behalf, our daughters and I are delighted, and are so immensely proud that his medical and research achievements have been recognised in this way,” said Mrs Cooper.

“David would be the first to tell you that this honour also belongs to the community of people who supported him in achieving his goals. At his core, David believed in collaboration, and he viewed his achievements as the result of the hard work of many,” said Mrs Cooper.

Professor Tony Kelleher from the Kirby Institute worked with Professor Cooper for many years, and considered him a mentor and friend. “David was respected all over the world as a leader in the field of infectious diseases. He was among the first responders when the HIV epidemic reached Australia in the early 1980s, he contributed to the development of every therapeutic drug used in HIV, and he ensured equitable access to HIV treatments across the globe,” said Professor Kelleher. “David drove high-quality impactful research that was centred on the needs of patients, especially those from the most vulnerable communities. This a legacy to which other clinical researchers can aspire.”

“It’s extraordinary that this award is being announced just days before we gather at Sydney Town Hall for his memorial. It’s quite fitting that with so many of his family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate his life and work, we can also take this opportunity to celebrate this exceptional accolade in his memory,” said Professor John Kaldor, Chair of the Kirby Institute Management Committee.

Read more about Professor Cooper’s outstanding contributions to Australian science and medicine: 

More information about Professor David Cooper’s memorial service:


Luci Bamford