Colin Kovacs


OHTN Policy and Practice Leader

Colin Kovacs is a critical bridge between frontline HIV Primary Care and scientists seeking a better understand of HIV infection. He helps engage people living with HIV in research to better treat and ultimately to cure HIV. His work helps ensures that translational research findings are brought back to benefit patients in his clinic and across Ontario.

Policy Influences

  • Colin Kovacs has been part of numerous trials testing many of the drugs now used to treat HIV. He has been a champion for access to newer treatments both for naïve and multi-drug resistant HIV infection.
  • Colin’s engagement with fundamental HIV research has long led him to be an advocate for potent ARV therapy and for early HIV treatment, both to benefit individual patients and to prevent transmission of HIV infection.

Current Research Projects

  • Therapeutic vaccine studies – Studies testing potential HIV vaccines and their capacity to better treatment outcomes for people living with HIV with Mario Ostrowski and scientists at the National Institute of Health.
  • Collaborations with OHTN funded scientists including Synbiotics to Enhance Gut Health [Rupert Kaul]; Studies of HIV levels in semen [Rupert Kaul]; Determining the prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) [Sean Rourke]; HIV Risk Factors for Recent Seroconverters [Barry Adam];
  • Studies to understand the immune systems of elite controllers (i.e. people who manage to control the virus without the help of drugs). This may help develop an intervention that does not rely on ongoing use of antiretroviral drugs.
  • Studies of the persistence of virus in the bodies of patients with long-term suppressed viral load. This work is essential knowledge for cure researchers.
  • Analytical treatment interruptions to assess vaccines – These studies strategically pause a person’s treatments to examine the immune effects of the vaccine being tested.

Work Environment and Collaborations:

Colin Kovacs is a clinician-scientist in Toronto and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. He provides HIV primary care to one of the largest HIV-focused practices in Ontario at the Maple Leaf Medical Clinic. As part of this clinical team, he mentors other physicians and helps set benchmarks for high quality care. He has collaborative working relationships with his patients, and helps many of them engage in research to better understand, treat and ultimately eradicated HIV infection.

Colin has working relationships with Ontario laboratory scientists like Mario Ostrowski and Rupert Kaul as well as US-based researchers at the prestigious National Institute of Health laboratories, Ragon Institute, Harvard, George Washington University, Albert Einstein University and Johns Hopkins University. Through these partnerships, he has helped address key questions in HIV medicine, such as: Why do some people infected with HIV seem to control the infection without medication? Why do some people whose virus is controlled by medication not see much positive change in their immune system measures? What causes persistent HIV infection? Colin has also been part of important studies about the factors that influence the level of HIV in semen and how these factors influence HIV transmission.

OHTN Support:

Colin Kovacs holds an OHTN Policy and Practice Leadership Award to continue his research collaborations with cure researchers ($250,000; 2015-2020). First funded by OHTN in 2005.

Video Lectures and Interviews

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