Obama said among those killed were researchers and advocates who were en route to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS and HIV.
"These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence," Obama said.
"In this world today, we shouldn't forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these -- people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they've never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common," he continued.
Obama went on to say Americans should "heed the example" of these researchers and "affirm their lives."
According to the New York Times, leading AIDS researcher Dr. Joep Lange was one of the victims of the crash, along with Dutch AIDS activist Pim de Kuijer.