Joep Lange

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Joep Lange
Joep Lange.jpg
Joseph Marie Albert Lange

(1954-09-25)25 September 1954
Nieuwenhagen, Netherlands
Died17 July 2014(2014-07-17) (aged 59)
near Hrabove, Ukraine
Cause of deathShootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam
OccupationPhysician, medical researcher
EmployerAcademic Medical Center
Known for
Spouse(s)Jacqueline van Tongeren

Joseph Marie Albert "Joep" Lange (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjoːsəf maːˈri ˈɑlbərt ˈjup ˈlɑŋə]; 25 September 1954 – 17 July 2014) was a Dutch clinical researcher specialising in HIV therapy. He served as the president of the International AIDS Society from 2002 to 2004. He was a passenger on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down on 17 July 2014 over Ukraine.

Early life and education[edit]

Lange was born on 25 September 1954 in Nieuwenhagen in the Netherlands. He was a Youth for Understanding foreign exchange student from 1971 to 1972 at Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida.[1] He later studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam, receiving his MD in 1981 and his PhD in 1987.[2]


In 2001, he founded the "PharmAccess Foundation", a non-profit organisation based in Amsterdam which aims to improve access to HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries, and he served as chairman until his death.[3] Lange was a former president of the International AIDS Society (2002–04). 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. He was also a founding editor of the medical 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, based in Thailand. Joep Lange established the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) in 2009 and uniquely positioned it to fill the gap of the ‘delivery perspective’ which has been largely neglected in academic approaches to global health. AIGHD links disciplines, resources and innovative programs from academic institutions and implementing partners in both the developed and developing world, with the ultimate aim to lead the way to access to high quality health care for all inhabitants of this world.[4] Lange also served on Accordia Global Health Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board.[5]

He was a member of several societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Microbiology, and International AIDS Society.

He received the Eijkman Medal for tropical medicine and international health in 2007.[6]

HIV/AIDS prevention[edit]

During the mid-1990s, Lange began advocating for the use of combination therapy in the management of HIV/AIDS. He argued that it is an "illusion to think that monotherapy with any antiretroviral agent will have a major and lasting impact on this disease" because the development of drug resistance significantly lowers the efficacy of treatment.[7] In 1996, Lange defended the work of controversial HIV/AIDS researcher David Ho, who treated infected patients by having them swallow 20 pills a day as part of a multidrug "cocktail" regimen.[8] Although this experiment was heavily criticised, Lange explained to The Wall Street Journal that "David's work in the past few years has helped to completely transform our understanding of HIV".[8]

Lange was also an important advocate for providing affordable AIDS medication to African countries, stating at one point that "(i)f we can get cold Coca-Cola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs".[2]

In 2003, Lange completed a study on the children of HIV-positive volunteer mothers in Rwanda and Uganda. He found that a baby's chance of contracting HIV falls to less than 1% if they receive anti-retroviral drugs while being nursed.[9] The findings of the study were announced by Lange at the 2003 International AIDS Society meeting in Paris.[9] During the 10th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Lange announced the results of a large multicenter clinical trial with the involvement of 1,216 patients in 17 countries. According to Lange, who served as principal investigator, these findings "clearly demonstrate the comparable efficacy of nevirapine and efavirenz in HIV treatment".[10]

Two years later, he commented in an editorial for PLOS Medicine that activist groups have derailed several pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP) clinical trials. He also expressed frustration that activist groups have prevented newer CCR5 receptor antagonists from being tested in Europe.[11] However, Lange was criticised for neglecting the needs of sex workers in the trials,[12] and other researchers asserted that the concerns raised by activists are "entirely legitimate" since the known toxic effects of so-called 'pre-exposure' drugs will lead to liver failure and kidney disease, thereby killing people rather than protecting them.[13]

From 2010 to 2012, Lange was a regular participant in the annual Bangkok International Symposium on HIV Medicine, where he argued that PREP is substantially more effective than current methods for HIV prevention.[14]


Lange and his partner Jacqueline van Tongeren were passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down near Hrabove, Ukraine, on 17 July 2014.[15][16][17] He was en route to Melbourne to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference, starting on 20 July.[18] His death was mourned by his peers, with the IAS stating that they had "truly lost a giant", while conference delegates interviewed by the media were described as being in "total shock".[19]


On July 15, 2015 the Joep Lange Institute and the Joep Lange Chair and Fellows program was announced. The institute is meant to continue the unique combination of scientific research, pragmatism and action that characterized Joep Lange. The first funding, consisting of $20 million from private sources in the United States, has been confirmed. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support the Joep Lange Chair. To mark the announcement of the Institute, former US President Bill Clinton has shared a video message in which he honors Joep Lange's work and emphasizes the importance of carrying forward his legacy. Operations will start in late 2015.[20]


  1. ^ "AIDS researcher who died in Malaysia Airlines crash studied in Tampa". 20 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Joep Lange – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  3. ^ "PharmAccess History". Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  4. ^ "About AIGHD". Archived from the original on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Accordia Promotes Global Health and Africa Medical Research | Accordia". Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  6. ^ Walker, Jade (18 July 2014). "Joep Lange, AIDS Expert And Former President of the International AIDS Society, Died in Plane Crash". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  7. ^ Lange, Joep (1995). "Combination Antiretroviral Therapy". Drugs. 49 (Supplement 1): 32–37. doi:10.2165/00003495-199500491-00008. PMID 7614900.
  8. ^ a b Waldholz, Michael (17 December 1996). "Dr Ho wants to test 'cure,' but others are critical". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b Clarke, Tom (16 July 2003). "Drugs slash HIV transmission by breast-feeding". Nature. doi:10.1038/news030714-7.
  10. ^ Peck, Peggy (14 February 2003). "Nevirapine, efavirenz are equally effective in HIV". Medscape. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  11. ^ Lange, Joep M. A. (2005). "We must not let protestors derail trials of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV". PLoS Medicine. 2 (9): e248. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020248. PMC 1176241. PMID 16008501.
  12. ^ Ditmore, Melissa (2005). "Response to Joep M. A. Lange". PLoS Medicine. 2 (10): e347. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020347. PMC 1261514. PMID 16231980.
  13. ^ Chua, Arlene; Ford, Nathan; Wilson, David; Cawthorne, Paul (2005). "The tenofovir pre-exposure prophylaxis trial in Thailand: Researchers should show more openness in their engagement with the community". PLOS Medicine. 2 (10): e346. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020346. PMC 1261513. PMID 16231979.
  14. ^ Clarke, Amanda; Hsu, Denise; Kerr, Stephen J.; Ramautarsing, Reshmie; Ohata, Pirapon June; Landolt, Nadia Kancheva; Avihingsanon, Anchalee; Maek-a-Nantawat, Wirach; Puthanakit, Thanyawee; Bunupuradah, Torsak; Prasitsuebsai, Wasana; Ananworanich, Jintanat; Phanuphak, Praphan; Ruxrungtham, Kiat (2012). "The 15th Bangkok International Symposium on HIV Medicine". Future Virology. 7 (4): 341–344. doi:10.2217/fvl.12.18.
  15. ^ "Joep Lange dead: AIDS researcher among victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash". Epoch Times. 18 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Crash claims top AIDS researchers heading to Melbourne". Sydney Morning Herald. 18 July 2014.
  17. ^ "AIDS researcher Joep Lange confirmed among dead in Malaysia jet shoot-down". Washington Post. 17 July 2014.
  18. ^ "MH17 flight crash victims include Joep Lange, world's top AIDS researcher". Biharprabha News. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  19. ^ Gallagher, James (18 July 2014). "MH17 crash: 'Total shock' at Aids researcher deaths". BBC News. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  20. ^ Joep Lange Institute, Joep (15 July 2015). "Announcing the Joep Lange Institute and Joep Lange Chair". PharmAccess Foundation. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015.

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