05 Mar In Memoriam: Charles Boucher
It is with profound sadness that we share the passing of Dr. Charles Boucher, one of the founders of the INTEREST conference and dear friend of the late Dr. Joep Lange.
Charles has been a driving force in identifying knowledge gaps and providing medical education for HIV professionals from the very start. An incredibly talented scientist with enormous ambition within the HIV field, Charles has cemented his legacy as a major contributor to HIV research and clinical virology.
Charles first came into his own in the late 80s and early 90s as a PhD student when he established himself as an international thought-leader, providing early research on HIV drug resistance. It was in these early years that Charles met Dr. Peter Reiss, “I believe Charles and I first met at the AMC in Amsterdam during the late 1980s and subsequently worked often and intensively together during our PhD research in HIV.” The two worked extensively on many HIV-related topics over the years.
His reputation preceded him as someone who was eager to participate in a lively discussion, regularly offering suggestions that would challenge others to consider new ideas and concepts in clinical virology. This clever way of thinking was an ideal match for his role as a mentor and his guidance created an environment where students and early career professionals could cultivate and develop new ideas. His colleagues would describe him as witty, innovative, energetic, and a brilliant scientist who was always 2 steps ahead in HIV research.
One of his major contributions was his visionary insight into the need to provide education on niche topics in HIV. By identifying these topics and giving time to discuss these various branches at events, he was able to kickstart further research which resulted in improved HIV care.
Charles’ many achievements cannot be accurately summarized here, but his prestigious career included graduating cum laude from the Academic Medical Center, earning a PhD in Clinical Virology from the University of Amsterdam, publishing over 300 peer-reviewed papers, and working professionally for nearly two decades as the Professor of Virology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam as well as a Clinical Microbiologist at the Erasmus Medical Center.
Charles was a thoughtful and inspirational leader and enthusiastic about getting to know people from different cultures and communities. He was a remarkable educator and his passion and enthusiasm for science and learning was unparalleled.
All of us at AIGHD benefitted from his warmth and kindness. He impacted our lives and was a mentor, teacher, and friend. He will be dearly missed.
Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
A note from Dr. Catherine Hankins and the INTEREST family at AIGHD
The INTEREST family will be forever grateful to Charles Boucher for partnering with Joep Lange for the very first INTEREST Workshop in Uganda in 2007. His unwavering and nurturing support of INTEREST continued throughout the years, including the 14th INTEREST conference that was planned for Windhoek, Namibia in May 2020 but had to be held virtually in December 2020. After the tragic deaths of Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren in 2014 when the MH17 flight was shot down over the Ukraine on the way to the international AIDS conference in Australia, Charles Boucher worked with Cate Hankins who agreed to assume Joep’s role in INTEREST in 2014 at Charles’ invitation. The working partnership between Charles’ company Virology Education and the Stichting Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development depended on our shared vision and the quality of the personal relationships we developed. Charles had initiative, proposed solutions, and brought his creative problem-solving skills to the table. He believed in scientific knowledge sharing, in clinical education programmes, and in scientific capacity building. Tributes from his many INTEREST colleagues describe his commitment, enthusiasm, leadership, and passion for science. A warm, supportive scientist and a reliable friend with a good soul, he touched so many lives in such a positive way. He was a real mensch, truly a great man, who had shared his knowledge and perspectives with many over the years. He was a central figure to INTEREST and to so many other initiatives and many felt that they had learned a lot from him over the years. He leaves behind a solid legacy of HIV prevention, care, and treatment and opportunities for young researchers in Africa. His departure is a tremendous loss to the HIV care and research community. He will be greatly missed by everyone in the INTEREST conference family.
To read Peter Reiss’s tribute to Dr. Charles Boucher in its entirety, please visit HIV-monitoring.
Text has been adapted from the INTEREST conference website.