Mathilde Krim

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Mathilde Krim
Born Mathilde Galland
(1926-07-09) July 9, 1926 (age 90)
Como, Italy
Alma mater University of Geneva, Ph.D., 1953
Occupation Medical researcher
Employer Weizmann Institute of Science, Cornell University Medical School, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Known for Founding chairman of amfAR, an association for AIDS research
Movement Irgun
Spouse(s) Arthur B. Krim
Awards 16 doctorates honoris causa, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Jefferson Awards Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged

Mathilde Krim, Ph.D. (Hebrew: מתילדה קרים‎‎; born July 9, 1926) is the founding chairman of amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Life and work[edit]

Dr. Mathilde Krim (née Galland) was born in Como, Italy, to a Swiss Protestant father and Italian Catholic mother.[1] She received her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in 1953. In 1950, she married a man whom she had befriended while he attended the University of Geneva School of Medicine, David Danon. They had a daughter and shortly thereafter left Switzerland, relocating to David's home country, the newly-independent Jewish state of Israel. From 1953 to 1959, she pursued research in cytogenetics and cancer-causing viruses at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where she was a member of the team that first developed a method for the prenatal determination of sex.

After her divorce, Krim moved to New York and joined the research staff of Cornell University Medical School, following her 1958 marriage to Arthur B. Krim—a New York attorney, head of United Artists, later founder of Orion Pictures, active member of the Democratic Party, and advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. It was at Krim's NYC home on May 19, 1962 that the famous 45th birthday party for President John F. Kennedy was held, with many famous persons in attendance (Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Maria Callas, Jack Benny, Harry Belafonte).

During the course of their marriage, Arthur and Mathilde Krim were very active in the American civil rights movement, the movements for independence in Rhodesia and South Africa, the gay rights movement, and in numerous other civil liberties and human rights movements. In 1962 Krim became a research scientist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and, from 1981 to 1985, she was the director of its interferon lab. Until recently,[when?] she held an academic appointment as Adjunct Professor of Public Health and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Soon after the first cases of what would later be called AIDS were reported in 1981, Krim recognized that this new disease raised grave scientific and medical questions and that it might have important socio-political consequences. She dedicated herself to increasing the public's awareness of AIDS and to a better understanding of its cause, its modes of transmission, and its epidemiologic pattern.[2] With Elizabeth Taylor, she founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research contributing generous amounts of her own funds and lending her considerable skills to raising awareness about AIDS and raising funds for AIDS research. She continues to work on behalf of AIDS awareness through AmfAR.

Krim holds 16 doctorates honoris causa and has received numerous other honors and distinctions. In August 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in recognition of her "extraordinary compassion and commitment".[2] In 2003, Krim received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[3]

She is a convert to Judaism.[4] While living in Switzerland, she assisted members of the Jewish terrorist organization Irgun in their efforts to purchase arms from former French resistance members, prior to Israel's independence. After moving to the U.S., She was also very active in collecting donations for Israel.[5]


  1. ^ "Mathilde Krim". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  2. ^ a b "HIV / AIDS Research". amfAR :: The Foundation for AIDS Research. 
  3. ^ "National". Jefferson Awards. 
  4. ^ Klemesrud, Judy (1984-11-03). "Dr. Mathilde Krim: Focusing Attention On AIDS Research". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  5. ^ Carmody, Deirdre (1990-01-30). "Painful Political Lesson for AIDS Crusader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 

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