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David A. Katzenstein, MD
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dr David Katzenstein, a leader in HIV research beginning in the very days of the HIV pandemic and valued scientific and educational contributor to the IAS-USA efforts.
David Katzenstein was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on January 3, 1952. David was a clinical investigator and humanitarian who made seminal contributions to our understanding of HIV virology, antiretroviral therapy, and drug resistance, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. David did the bulk of his training at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), completing his undergraduate, medical school, residency and infectious diseases (ID) fellowship there. He then went to the University of California Davis (UCD) for further training in ID and served as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the ID Division at UCD as well as the University of Minnesota. While at UCD he established a long-standing relationship with the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, becoming one of the first US-based HIV researchers to commit to working in this region of the world. After a 2-year position as a Senior Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Retrovirus Research, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration, David joined the faculty at Stanford University as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the infectious diseases division in 1989, working with Dr Thomas Merigan and Dr Mark Holodniy on HIV drug resistance. At Stanford, he led the Advanced Technology Laboratory and was Associate Director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory.
During his tenure at Stanford, David led several pivotal studies in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and was a member of the HIV Disease Research Agenda Committee. He published many seminal papers on antiretroviral therapy, such as the ACTG 175 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as studies of genetic insertions as a cause of multi-drug resistance to nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors. He has authored hundreds of scientific papers, in collaboration with investigators from around the world.
Within the IAS-USA, David was one of the original members of the IAS-USA Antiretroviral Guidelines Panel, which published its first report in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1996, as well as of the IAS-USA Resistance Guidelines Panel. He was a popular and frequent speaker at IAS-USA seminars and conferences on issues related to antiretroviral resistance, drug resistance testing, and the use of viral load in clinical practice.
As valuable as all of his contributions were in the area of HIV virology, resistance, and antiretroviral therapy, his most lasting contributions were in Zimbabwe. David was a passionate advocate for access to antiretroviral therapy and virologic testing in Sub-Saharan Africa for 3 decades. The amount of time he spent living in country reveals his commitment to his passion for treatment and care in Zimbabwe. His initial work in Zimbabwe focused on the epidemiology of Kaposi’s sarcoma and rapidly evolved to include HIV epidemiology and therapeutics. Indeed, he was in Zimbabwe on an extended stay at the time he became ill and died from complications of COVID-19.
On a personal level, David was considered a friend to so many of his professional colleagues. Apart from being admired for the depth of his expertise and his dedication to supporting career development among younger faculty, David is also remembered for his ease in forming friendships and sharing them with others, his sharp sense of humor, and his warm welcome to visitors to Harare. He enjoyed showing the HIV research and outreach programs there as much as sharing the cultural, artistic, and physical beauty of the otherwise troubled Zimbabwe. He was an avid collector and supporter of the Shona sculpture art movement in Zimbabwe. In the words of so many, David was the true definition of a mensch.
David’s legacy in Zimbabwe will remain for decades to come and his contributions to deepening the scientific understanding of HIV virology, antiretroviral therapy, HIV drug resistance, and HIV-RNA testing will forever be recognized in the annals of HIV Medicine. May his memory be a blessing.