Groundbreaking HIV/AIDS researcher Dr. Mark Wainberg, a former president of the International AIDS Society, died Tuesday afternoon off a Bal Harbour beach. He was 71.
Bal Harbour police Capt. Mike De La Rosa said from what police were told when they arrived, “The gentleman had been in the water with other members of his family. The son stated he lost sight of his dad. He put his grandson back on the beach and went out to look for his dad. He found him and began to swim back to the shore. Others on the beach helped bring him to shore.”
By that point, Bal Harbour police officers were on the beach, near 102nd and Collins Avenue, and administered CPR. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived shortly after and transported Wainberg, an internationally renowned scientist, based out of Montreal.
De La Rosa said that red flags had gone up after Tuesday morning’s National Weather Service surf report, indicating strong currents or strong surf.
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Wainberg was on the first team to discover, in 1989, the anti-viral drug, Lamivudine, to be used in treating HIV/AIDS. His ensuing AIDS research earned him honors such as the Order of Canada and the Legion d’honneur, the highest honors for civilians given by Canada and France, respectively.
The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame lauded Wainberg before his 2015 induction as having “revolutionized our understanding of HIV/AIDS at medical, epidemiological and political levels.”
Wainberg had been a Medicine and Microbiology professor at Montreal’s McGill University, where he received his bachelor’s degree, as well as director of the McGill University AIDS Centre. He earned his Ph.D from Columbia University and did post-doctoral research at Hadassah Medical School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.