January 16, 2018 – “Because I was incensed!” With these words in a November 1984 interview with The New York Times, Dr. Mathilde Krim explained why she cofounded the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, the first private organization concerned with fostering and supporting AIDS research. She would go on to become the founding chair and chairman of the board of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and an unparalleled champion of the science, policies, education, and compassion required to protect the lives of all people living with and vulnerable to HIV.
Dr. Krim passed away yesterday, January 15, 2018, at the age of 91.
“We have lost an inspirational, tireless, and catalytic leader of our movement,” said Mark Harrington, TAG’s Executive Director. “Dr. Krim understood the gravity of the epidemic, in its earliest and darkest days, and was driven by her own remarkable intelligence, fierce commitment to civil rights and social justice, extraordinary social and political networks, and true grit to galvanize funders, scientists, policy leaders, and activists toward a single cause: ending HIV and AIDS as a threat to humanity.”
Born in Como, Italy, in July 1926, Dr. Krim (née Galland) received her PhD in biology from the University of Geneva in 1953 and would go on to be awarded 16 doctorates honoris causa and, in 2000, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was her work as the leader of the interferon program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York that helped to shape her leadership in the response to HIV/AIDS, where she recognized the dual challenges of securing adequate funding for research and ensuring the best possible care, free of stigma, for those living with the virus.
“I genuinely believe that we wouldn’t be where we are today without Dr. Krim’s brilliance, determination, and mobilization,” said Tim Horn, Deputy Executive Director of HIV & HCV Programs at TAG. “Beyond her unparalleled contributions to HIV/AIDS research fundraising and awareness, she was an interminable source of strength, support, and wisdom for countless activists over the years.”
“TAG has lost a matriarch of our family, a leader in our movement, and a steadfast supporter of our work,” said Barbara Hughes, President of TAG’s Board of Directors. “We mourn Dr. Krim’s passing and join amfAR and so many leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS in remembering her work and life.”
This tribute to Dr. Krim has been revised. The original version inadvertently implied Dr. Krim independently founded the AIDS Medical Foundation. She was a cofounder, along with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Michael Callen, and others.
Photo (top right): Mathilde Krim by Joyce Tenneson, Inkjet print, c. 2000 (printed 2014), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, in honor of our Founding Chairman, Dr. Mathilde Krim.
Photo (bottom center): By Rob Klein, 2010. From left, Alby Maccarone (Director Emeritus), Dr. Mathilde Krim, Mark Harrington (Executive Director), and Barbara Hughes (President) at the 2010 TAG Research in Action Awards.