Quarraisha Abdool Karim, PhD

  • Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC
Profile Headshot


Quarraisha Abdool Karim, PhD, Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA, is an infectious diseases epidemiologist whose main research interests are in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa; factors influencing acquisition of HIV infection in adolescent girls; and sustainable strategies to introduce antiretroviral therapy in resource-constrained settings. She holds Professorships in Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, USA and in Public Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.  She is also a visiting scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University. Since 1998 she has played a central role in building the science base in southern Africa through the Columbia University - Southern African Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme that has trained over 600 scientists in southern Africa.

She was the Principal Investigator of the landmark CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial which provided proof of concept for Microbicides, highlighted by Science as one of the Top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2010. Professor Abdool Karim has over 170 peer reviewed publications and has authored several books and book chapters.

Professor Abdool Karim is currently chair of the South African National AIDS Council Prevention Technical Task Team, a member of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS. She is an advisory board member of the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS), Scientific Advisory Board member of the US President's Emergency Pan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Chair of the PEPFAR Adolescent Girls and Young Women Expert Working Group, a member of the HIV Centre Strategic Advisory Committee and the NIH OAR Microbicides Planning Group. She is currently Vice-President (Southern African Region) of the African Academy of Sciences.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC

Administrative Titles

  • Associate Scientific Director, CAPRISA (Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa)

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • 2000, University of Natal
  • BS, 1981 University of Durban-Westville
  • MS, 1988 Columbia University

Committees, Societies, Councils

UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV

Member, US National Academy of Medicine

Fellow, African Academy of Science

Fellow, The Royal Society of South Africa

Fellow, The World Academy of Science

Member, Academy of Science of South Africa

Editorial Boards

HIV Clinical Trials



Honors & Awards

John Dirks-Canada Gairdner Award in Global Health

Christophe Merieux Award, French Academies of Sciences

L'Oreal-Unesco Women in Science Laureate for Africa and the Middle East

Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze, President of South Africa

Allan Rosenfield Columbia University Alumni Award


Research Interests

  • Infectious Diseases

Selected Publications

Dellar RC, Dlamini S, Abdool Karim Q. Adolescent girls and young women: key populations for HIV epidemic control. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015; 18(2): 64-70. [Times cited: 231]

Abdool Karim Q. Enhancing HIV Prevention with Injectable Preexposure Prophylaxis. New England Journal of Medicine 2021; 385(7):652-653. [Times cited*: 0]

Kharsany ABM, Cawood C, Khanyile D, Lewis L, Grobler A, Puren A, Govender K, George G, Beckett S, Samsunder N, Madurai S, Toledo C, Chipeta Z, Glenshaw M, Hersey S, Abdool Karim Q. Community-based HIV prevalence in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: results of a cross-sectional household survey. Lancet HIV 2018;5(8): e427-e437. [Times cited*: 27]

de Oliveira T, Kharsany AB, Gräf T, Cawood C, Khanyile D, Grobler A, Puren A, Madurai S, Baxter C, Abdool Karim Q, Abdool Karim SS. Transmission networks and risk of HIV infection in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a community-wide phylogenetic study. Lancet HIV 2017; 4(1): e41-e50. [Times cited*: 137]

Abdool Karim SS, Abdool Karim Q, Kharsany ABM, Baxter C, Grobler AC, Werner L, Kashuba A, Mansoor LE, Samsunder N, Mindel A, Gengiah TN, for the CAPRISA 004 Trial Group. Tenofovir gel for the prevention of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 infection. New England Journal of Medicine 2015; 373:530-9. [Times cited*: 56]

15. McKinnon LR, Liebenberg LJ, Yende-Zuma N, Archary D, Ngcapu S, Sivro A, Nagelkerke N, Garcia Lerma JG, Kashuba AD, Masson L, Mansoor LE, Abdool Karim Q, Abdool Karim SS, Passmore JS. Genital inflammation undermines the effectiveness of tenofovir gel in preventing HIV acquisition in women. Nature Medicine 2018; 24(4): 491-496. [Times cited*: 55]

Liebenberg LJP, McKinnon LR, Yende-Zuma N, Garrett N, Baxter C, Kharsany ABM, Archary D, Rositch A, Samsunder N, Mansoor LE, Passmore JAS, Abdool Karim SS Abdool Karim Q. HPV infection and the genital cytokine milieu in women at high risk of HIV acquisition. Nature Communications 2019;10(1). doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13089-2. [Times cited*: 9]

21. WHO Solidarity Trial Consortium, Pan H, Peto R, Henao-Restrepo AM, Preziosi MP, Sathiyamoorthy V, Abdool Karim Q, Alejandria MM, Hernández García C, Kieny MP, Malekzadeh R, Murthy S, Reddy KS, Roses Periago M, Abi Hanna P, Ader F, Al-Bader AM, Alhasawi A, Allum E, Alotaibi A, Alvarez-Moreno CA, Appadoo S, Asiri A, Aukrust P, Barratt-Due A, Bellani S, Branca M, Cappel-Porter HBC, Cerrato N, Chow TS, Como N, Eustace J, García PJ, Godbole S, Gotuzzo E, Griskevicius L, Hamra R, Hassan M, Hassany M, Hutton D, Irmansyah I, Jancoriene L, Kirwan J, Kumar S, Lennon P, Lopardo G, Lydon P, Magrini N, Maguire T, Manevska S, Manuel O, McGinty S, Medina MT, Mesa Rubio ML, Miranda-Montoya MC, Nel J, Nunes EP, Perola M, Portolés A, Rasmin MR, Raza A, Rees H, Reges PPS, Rogers CA, Salami K, Salvadori MI, Sinani N, Sterne JAC, Stevanovikj M, Tacconelli E, Tikkinen KAO, Trelle S, Zaid H, Røttingen JA, Swaminathan S. Repurposed Antiviral Drugs for Covid-19 - Interim WHO Solidarity Trial Results. New England Journal of Medicine 2021 February; 384(6):497-511. [Times cited: 323]

20. Abdool Karim Q, Abdool Karim SS. COVID-19 affects HIV and tuberculosis care. Science 2020; 369(6502): 366-368. [Times cited*:14]

10. Abdool Karim Q**, Abdool Karim SS**, Frohlich JA, Grobler AC, Baxter C, Mansoor LE, Kharsany AB, Sibeko S, Mlisana KP, Omar Z, Gengiah TN, Maarschalk S, Arulappan N, Mlotshwa M, Morris L, Taylor D. Effectiveness and safety of tenofovir gel, an antiretroviral microbicide, for the prevention of HIV infection in women. Science 2010; 329(5996):1168-74. **joint first author [Times cited*: 1931]

Global Health Activities

Reducing HIV in Adolescents: The toll of the HIV epidemic on young women makes the need for interventions to protect them from HIV infection imperative. Such interventions need to address risk factors for HIV infection, while simultaneously addressing the social, political, and economic factors that generate vulnerability and perpetuate risk. CAPRISA's epidemiological studies have enhanced our understanding of the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa by generating valuable information on HIV acquisition in young women to guide the development of interventions focused on your women. The CAPRISA 007 RHIVA (Reducing HIV in Adolescents) trial a proof of concept cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a high school based cash incentivised intervention package to reduce HIV infection in young women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

CAPRISA 004: Tenofovir Gel trial : CAPRISA 004: Phase II trial to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaginal microbicide, 1% Tenofovir gel, for the prevention of HIV infection in young women in South Africa.

Columbia University Southern African Fogarty AITRP: The magnitude of the HIV epidemic in developing countries creates the impetus for research to be undertaken in these countries. However, the limited infrastructure and human resource capacity pose many challenges. The CU-SA Fogarty AITRP has in the past 12 years contributed significantly to the development of epidemiological and basic science research capacity to enhance the response to the epidemic in South Africa through training opportunities at Columbia University and a number of academic institutions in South Africa. The program also supports HIV research capacity building in Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho. Some indication of the impact of this program can be gleaned from the publications and leadership roles played by previous trainees.