IDI Mourns HIV/AIDS Researchers who Perished in Malaysian Airliner Crash

Top AIDS researcher Professor Joep Lange also confirmed dead

The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) joins the world today to mourn the demise of 298 passengers who perished in the Malaysian airliner that crashed yesterday, 17th July 2014. It is believed that 100 of these passengers were delegates en route to the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia. 

Among the 100 was world-renowned physician, Professor Joep Lange and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren. Prof. Joep Lange was a visionary who campaigned relentlessly for affordable HIV treatment in Africa and Asia. He believed that access to HIV care was a basic human right. He worked tirelessly to convince clinicians, researchers, donors, and policy makers to remember the poor and vulnerable people living with HIV/AIDS.

He was the principal investigator on a visionary study in 2000 which brought antiretroviral drugs to 50 people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. The success of this work helped convince many stakeholders that HIV treatment was possible in Africa.

He also led the INTERACT program in Uganda and Rwanda, which provided funding for PhD studies for local physicians. This program was highly successful and all of the students were awarded PhD degrees.

More recently he had become very passionate about microfinance as a way to help the poor and vulnerable of the world. Despite these many achievements, he may be best remembered for his inspirational lectures. He was an avid reader and really enjoyed books related to business, leadership and innovation. He always included references to these books in his very memorable talks. 

He was member of the Accordia Global Health Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and was the former president of the International AIDS Society (2002–04).  He shall be dearly missed by IDI, which has hosted him on numerous occasions as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which has provided expert guidance to IDI’s current and future research initiatives.  

Joseph "Joep" Lange (1954 – 17 July 2014) was born in Nieuwenhagen and studied at the University of Amsterdam, receiving his M.D. in 1981 and his PhD in 1987. From 1992 to 1995, Lange was chief of clinical research and drug development at the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva. He was the Founder and the Chairman of the PharmAccess Foundation, which is dedicated to improving access to health care in Africa, and the founder and editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Antiviral Therapy. 

In 2006, he became Professor of Medicine at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam and Senior Scientific Advisor to the International Antiviral Therapy Evaluation Centre, Amsterdam. He was also co-director of the HIV Netherlands Australia Research Collaboration (HIV-NAT), based in Thailand. Prof Lange was also the Scientific Director of HIV[e]Ducation, an online learning system for medical doctors, nurses and counsellors working with HIV-positive people. 

Prof. Lange will be greatly missed by the IDI community and his colleagues and friends internationally. We in IDI particularly remember him for supporting  our research capacity building efforts through our partnership with the Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam.