Prominent AIDS researchers among those killed on MH17 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Prominent AIDS researchers among those killed on MH17

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 could have a significant impact on international research efforts to find a cure for aids.

Renowned aids researcher Joep Lange and possibly many other colleagues were among those who died in the plane crash. They were on their way to the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Northwestern University professor Dr. Robert Murphy is in Melbourne at that conference.

“It's like a wake, it's very depressing,” Murphy said. “Because now the fact that one of the big leaders of the field is no longer with us.”

Murphy, a leading aids researcher in Chicago, co-wrote a book with Lange, who is a professor at the University of Amsterdam and a past president of the International Aids Society. The two have worked together for 25 years.

“We've been at each other’s homes, we know each other's kids, it's very personal,” Murphy said via Skype from his hotel room in Melbourne.

Dr. Alan Landay, a professor at Rush University Medical Center also personally knew Lange and was attending the aids conference as well.

“Everywhere I go, everybody's asking, talking in hallways, who was on the plane, how could this happen?” Landay said during a phone interview.

Early unconfirmed reports suggested more than 100 researchers may have also been killed in the crash, but Dr. Murphy said reports he was hearing indicated perhaps only seven were actually on board MH17.

Friday at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, professor and aids researcher Thomas Hope said he had received several emails from colleagues asking him if he was on board the plane, which he said left him a bit unnerved.

At the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, professor and aids researcher Thomas Hope worked with a heavy heart after learning one of the world's leading clinical aids researchers died in the Malaysia Airlines crash. He said losing leading researcher could have a significant impact on aids research.

“The loss of that knowledge is really horrible and then when you consider the collective knowledge of all those individuals, disciplines, all the things they focused on, that will never be replaced,” Hope said.

But others saw the tragedy as having a galvanizing effect on those on the front line searching for a cure.

“I think everybody feels what this does is takes what people's efforts and redoubles them even further,” said Dr. Landay. 

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