It is with heavy hearts and sincere sadness that we share the passing of Dr. Scott Hammer on Thursday, November 17. He was a long-time ACTG leader, investigator, and virologist who made significant contributions for more than 25 years. Dr. Hammer was a brilliant scientist who will be remembered for his kindness and generosity towards his colleagues. He will be sorely missed. We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his wife Susan, and to his colleagues at Columbia and around the globe.
Dr. Hammer began his ACTG service as the site leader at what was then the New England Deaconess Medical Center, a subunit of the Massachusetts General Hospital ACTU at the time. He was then the Columbia University CTU PI until June 2018 and also served as a PI mentor to the Durban CTU when it was onboarded in 2004 as one of ACTG’s first international sites.
“Scott took a chance as a new chief of infectious diseases and gave me a last-minute fellowship position at Columbia,” said Tim Wilkin. MD, MPH. “He launched my career and has been an ongoing mentor and role model for me. He encouraged me to think big and to be strategic about my career decisions. Scott exhibited a sustained dedication to mentoring new clinical researchers and supporting the advancement of women scientists. His work has changed the lives of millions of people living with HIV around the world.”
Dr. Hammer served as a protocol chair, investigator, or virologist on nearly 50 ACTG protocols and sub-studies, including ACTG 175, the first clinical endpoint trial for dual therapy (which he co-chaired with the late Dr. David Katzenstein). He chaired the landmark ACTG 320 trial demonstrating the clinical benefit of triple drug therapy. Along with Dr. Katzenstein and Dr. Mary Albrecht, he co-chaired ACTG 364, a pivotal study in support of FDA approval of efavirenz. And along with Dr. John Mellors, he was the protocol chair for ACTG 398, which studied four different combinations of anti-HIV drugs for people with drug resistance. Dr. Hammer’s ACTG research resulted in more than 50 publications and numerous abstract presentations at major HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases conferences.
Dr. Hammer also served on numerous science and leadership committees over the years, including the ACTG Executive Committee, Performance Evaluation Committee, and Scientific Agenda Steering Committee and was the vice chair and later chair of the HIV Disease Research Agenda Committee, equivalent to a Transformative Science Group today. He was very thoughtful and fair in his committee contributions and deliberations and was an integral part of forming the robust site performance evaluation program we have in place. He served as a mentor and role model to many of us over the decades.
“Dr. Hammer was always very thoughtful and diplomatic in his approach when providing input to the committees and interacted in the same manner with support staff like myself, consistently kind and appreciative of our services,” said Lisa Patton, NCC.