When Dr. Curtis Cooper started his research fellowship, he wanted to focus on an area of emerging research—treatment of patients co-infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV). “When I first started as a trainee, there was very little to offer patients and what we did have had horrible side effects and toxicities,” says Dr. Cooper. But much has changed in the field and Dr. Cooper continues to be a leader in research and implementation efforts. Currently, he is directing several studies investigating the efficacy and safety of current and experimental treatments in HIV and HCV.
Supported in part by the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network, one such study is assessing the ability of metformin to normalize insulin resistance in HCV mono and HIV-HCV co-infected patients. “We want to determine whether this helps to improve the amount of liver fibrosis and whether it improves the treatment response to HCV antiviral therapy.”
Another focus of Dr. Cooper’s research involves the development of vaccines for use by patients with HIV. “HIV patients are more susceptible to severe disease with vaccine preventable infections and are less responsive to vaccines.” Dr. Cooper explains. Strategies to improve vaccine immunogenicity in HIV patients include larger doses, more doses, or combined vaccines with adjuvants (something that produces a better immunologic response). “I’ve explored all three strategies over the years,” says Dr. Cooper. “With the right adjuvant you can make much better vaccines.”
Dr. Cooper is Associate Professor with the University of Ottawa, Infectious Diseases Consultant with the Ottawa Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases, and Scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He is also the President Elect of the Canadian Association of HIV Research.
The Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR), the CIHR HIV/AIDS Research Initiative, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) and the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI) Research and Development Alliance Coordinating Office (ACO) would like to thank Dr. Cooper for his significant contributions to our understanding of HIV. His work is part of a larger Canadian research effort that is making a difference in the lives of those affected by HIV in Canada and around the world.