Dr. Mark Wainberg
Dr. Mark WainbergReuters

Dr. Mark Wainberg, a renowned AIDS researcher, drowned in Florida while vacationing for Passover.

According to news reports, a family member lost sight of Wainberg while he was swimming off the coast of Bal Harbour on Tuesday, then found him and brought him to shore unresponsive. Officers on the beach administered CPR, and the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue transported the 71-year-old Wainberg to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, 7News in Miami reported.

“He was a leader in our field and a mentor,” Cécile Tremblay, an infectious disease researcher, told The Globe and Mail. “He was a pioneer in the fight against HIV.”

A graduate of McGill University, Wainberg researched AIDS for nearly 35 years. He was best known for identifying 3TC (Lamivudine) as one of the first effective anti-viral treatments that helped extend the survival of HIV/AIDS patients almost indefinitely.

Wainberg was based at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital’s Lady Davis Institute and was director of the McGill University AIDS Center. He once served as president of the International AIDS Society and received numerous accolades, including the Order of Canada and France’s Légion d’Honneur.