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Kevin Robertson, PhD
Kevin Robertson, PhD

Kevin Robertson, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the AIDS Neurological Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, passed away Sunday after an extended battle with cancer.

Dr. Robertson was a dedicated investigator and passionate mentor in the international AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG), past chair of the Neurology Collaborative Science Group, and protocol team chair and member for several important studies. Kevin led global research initiatives in neurological complications of HIV, and he trained clinicians and researchers around the world to establish research capacity in neuropsychological testing in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, India, Thailand, Peru, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. Within the ACTG he has led international research efforts to expand assessments of cognitive function to populations outside the US. He has been passionate about studying the relationships among HIV cognitive disorders, antiretroviral therapy and inflammation and HIV persistence in the central nervous system.

“I am saddened that Kevin’s reasoned voice in departmental affairs, intellectual contributions, and his kindness to all will no longer be with us,” said colleague Albert Hinn, MD, professor of neurology at the UNC School of Medicine. “He certainly enriched our lives and he will be greatly missed.”

After earning a master’s degree from Western Carolina University and a doctorate from Oklahoma State University, Robertson came to UNC for a clinical internship in 1987, where he remained and thrived throughout his career.

“Kevin made the world a better place and made us better people,” said UNC colleague Bradley Vaughn, MD. “We will miss him terribly.”

UNC colleague James F. Howard, Jr., MD, said, “This is a tragic loss of a friend and colleague who gave much to all of us.  All will miss him and those who did not know him will have missed an opportunity.”

The ACTG Network Leadership – Judith Currier, MD, MSc; Joseph Eron, MD, at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Ian Sanne, MBBCH, said, “We will miss Kevin’s brilliant mind and sharp wit, his thoughtfulness and respect for colleagues, and his enduring commitment to mentoring young investigators around the world. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues.”

In 2016, Dr. Robertson was recognized for his role in training the next generation of AIDS researchers across the globe by the American Psychological Association as the 2016 Distinguished Leader in Psychology and AIDS. Read more about his career at UNC and his work in this Five Questions feature from 2016.

Dr. Robertson’s family is holding a private memorial. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Robertson wished for friends and family to donate to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

An obituary for Dr. Robertson was published in the News & Observer.