Wafaa El-Sadr Named the Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health

Endowed by Hess Family Foundation, longtime supporters of the Mailman School; Professorship Honors Legendary co-founder of amfAR

November 17, 2015

The Trustees of Columbia University have approved a new endowed professorship in global health at the Mailman School of Public Health. The inaugural recipient is Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of Epidemiology and director of ICAP and an internationally recognized leader in prevention and care of people with HIV/AIDS globally. Through the generosity of the Hess Foundation at the bequest of Norma Hess, and of amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research, Dr. El-Sadr will be the Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health.

This professorship honors Dr. El-Sadr as a global health pioneer. As the director of ICAP, established in 2003 to conduct transformative care delivery and prevention, as well as research to improve the lives of people around the world, Dr. El-Sadr, has led the historic scale-up of access to treatment in some of the countries most severely affected by HIV. Today one of every five people being treated for HIV—2.2 million people in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia—does so with ICAP support. Together with colleagues in New York and around the world, Dr. El-Sadr has in a visionary and effective way, enhanced laboratory, technical and clinical infrastructure in partnership with leaders in-country, and developed education and mentorship for those providing care and extending prevention. In 2008, Dr. El-Sadr was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, also known as the Genius Award, for her creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions for the future.
Beyond leading in implementation and scale-up of HIV/AIDS programs, Dr. El-Sadr has championed the importance of knowledge-generation, furthering ICAP’s vibrant research agenda. These contributions have advanced knowledge in HIV prevention and treatment, management of HIV, tuberculosis and other conditions, and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. In the last year, ICAP embarked on the Population-based HIV Impact Assessment project, a major endeavor to assess the status of the HIV epidemic in several sub-Saharan African countries with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As a highly regarded educator, Dr. El-Sadr is also University Professor and professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and works with Master’s and doctoral students from all over the Mailman School pursuing careers in global health and infectious disease. She also leads the Global Health Initiative, working to foster interdisciplinary collaborations on key global health issues across our school. She maintains a practice at Harlem Hospital where she has provided care to patients with HIV for several decades.  
“Dr. El-Sadr has brought global distinction to the Mailman School and Columbia University, warm collegiality to researchers and public health leaders all over the world, and humanity and empathy to those living with HIV and AIDS,” said Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of the Mailman School and DeLamar Professor of Public Health Practice. “It is particularly appropriate that this professorship is named for Dr. Mathilde Krim, a legend in the HIV response.”
“It has been a privilege to have worked with so many remarkable people over the past decades,” said Dr. El-Sadr. “They have been the true inspiration behind all of my work.”
As a co-founder of the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, Dr. Krim was at the forefront of philanthropic and scientific responses to AIDS long before the world fully understood its catastrophic global reach. Two years later, AMF joined forces with Elizabeth Taylor’s California-based National AIDS Research Foundation to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research—amfAR. As Board Chair for two decades, Dr. Krim presided over a research portfolio that contributed to the development of new classes of antiretroviral drugs, modeled the first successful community-based clinical trials network, and founded a collaborative research and education network focused on Asia’s growing HIV epidemic. She was also a driving force behind the development and passage of legislation that remains the backbone of the federal response to AIDS. Dr. El-Sadr herself served as a member of amfAR’s Board for several years and was honored by amfAR for her groundbreaking research on women and HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day 2004. An insightful scientist, Dr. Krim served as a member of the Mailman School’s Board of Overseers and partnered with many members of our faculty to raise understanding about the importance of fighting stigma and ignorance with the same urgency scientists used to combat the virus.
The Hess Foundation has given significant funding to Columbia University, and in particular, to our School. They have supported, among other things, Hess Commons, and the Leon Hess Professorship in Environmental Health Sciences, held by the department chair. Leon and Norma Hess were close friends of Joseph and Phyllis Mailman. Betsy Williams, their granddaughter and a graduate of the school, has served on the Mailman School Board of Overseers since 2007.  Ms. Williams’s leadership and support made this gift possible and she herself works closely with many Mailman School faculty and students.