It is with great sadness that we announce that Timothy Ray Brown (also known as “the Berlin patient”) passed away yesterday afternoon after battling a relapse from leukemia. Tim was known as the first patient to be cured of HIV-1 infection after receiving a first-of-a-kind treatment in 2007 in Berlin based on a bone marrow transplant with cells from a donor who had a CCR5 delta 32 mutation that rendered cells resistant to HIV-1 infection. During the time that followed the successful treatment, Tim was fully supportive of any kind of studies that he could contribute to in order to understand how an HIV-1 cure could be achieved. He became the living image of hope for the millions around the world who are affected by and living with HIV-1. Recognizing his role in reminding all of us who hope to cure AIDS cannot be disregarded, as he became a strong advocate for supporting the effort seeking a successful cure strategy. He never stopped talking about his experience to people at any level, from those living with HIV to health care providers, scientists, and, in particular, he enjoyed talking to the new generation of scientists in many settings. It is in this role that some of us met him and benefited from the humble account of his successful medical history, the lessons he learned from it, and his words of encouragement to keep working on what today may seem an extremely difficult to achieve goal to successfully prevent and treat HIV-1 infection and eradicate AIDS. It is striking that he succeeded in defeating HIV-1 only to succumb to leukemia and left us in the middle of a new pandemic. His strength and passion shall be remembered and treasured by us all to keep our focus on the many challenging missions to fight any diseases in order to fully honor his longstanding support for our work.
Guido, Ferrari, M.D.
Associate Professor of Surgery
Associate Director, Duke CFAR Immunology Core