amfAR Salutes Women in HIV Research
February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Since the beginning of the epidemic more than 35 years ago, women have played a central role in the response to HIV/AIDS as researchers, advocates, health care professionals, volunteers and donors.
Leading the charge was Dr. Mathilde Krim, amfAR’s revered and universally respected Founding Chairman, who passed away in January 2018 at the age of 91. And while not a scientist, it was Elizabeth Taylor, amfAR’s Founding International Chairman, who was the other half of a powerhouse duo that was able to force others to listen, persuade them to act, and encourage them to make critical investments in AIDS research.
In observance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, amfAR salutes the female researchers and scientific leaders who have made, and continue to make, invaluable contributions to our progress on HIV/AIDS. We profile a small sample of them below.
amfAR Founding Chairman Dr. Mathilde Krim
Dr. Krim was a geneticist and virologist who bridged the worlds of laboratory science and political activism to strip AIDS of stigma and turn its treatment into a national cause. She was a driving force behind legislation that expanded access to lifesaving treatment and behind efforts to scale up federal funding for AIDS research. In 2000, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States.
(See tribute to Dr. Krim posted Dr. Nuria Izquierdo-Useros at IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain.)
Dr. Jintanat Ananworanich
Dr. Ananworanich is the Associate Director for Therapeutics Research at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) in Bethesda, MD, and Co-director of the South East Asia Research Collaboration on HIV. Her research focus is acute or early infection. A former TREAT Asia principal investigator, Dr. Ananworanich is currently evaluating strategies aimed at inducing HIV remission, such as therapeutic vaccines and broadly neutralizing antibodies.
Dr. Judith Auerbach
Dr. Auerbach is a public sociologist, independent science and policy consultant, and adjunct professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She previously served as vice president of public policy and program development for amfAR. Dr. Auerbach has taught, presented, and published widely in the areas of HIV/AIDS, social science, public policy, and sex and gender.
Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
Dr. Barré-Sinoussi is a renowned virologist and Honorary President of the Virology Department at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. She has been at the forefront of HIV research since her 1983 co-discovery of the virus with Dr. Luc Montagnier, for which both were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Since then, she has dedicated her life to HIV translational science and advocating with and for people living with HIV around the world.
Dr. Susan Blumenthal
Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A. (ret.), has been a leading U.S. government health expert and spokesperson for more than 30 years. A former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, her work has included a focus on HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic when she warned the country that the government was not taking women's health as seriously as men's health. She is the senior policy and medical advisor at amfAR.
Dr. Marcella Flores
Dr. Flores is an experienced research scientist specializing in the field of viral immunology. Her interest in viruses was shaped through her work with the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), which exposed her to the devastating effects of the HIV pandemic. As amfAR’s associate director of research, she co-develops the strategy aimed at finding the scientific basis of a cure by 2020.
Dr. Rowena Johnston
Dr. Johnston is vice president and director of research at amfAR, where she is responsible for overseeing the Foundation's pioneering research program. She designs and leads the organization’s efforts to find a cure for HIV and works with scientists and the community to ensure that amfAR’s research aligns with the Foundation’s mission to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Dr. Sharon Lewin
Dr. Lewin is director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where she leads a large multidisciplinary research team that focuses on HIV persistence, cure research, and co-infections. She is widely recognized for her innovative work in understanding why HIV persists on treatment using novel laboratory models and leading several early phase clinical trials of cancer drugs that alter HIV genes.
Dr. Eileen Scully
Dr. Scully is an infectious disease physician, immunologist, and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. A previous amfAR grantee, she led a study to recruit a cohort of matched men and women to look for sex differences in HIV reservoir size, activity, and immune responses. Dr. Scully is chairing a clinical trial opening this year that will examine HIV cure interventions in women.
Dr. Annette Sohn
Dr. Sohn, amfAR’s vice president and director of TREAT Asia, is an HIV clinician, researcher, and advocate. She collaborates with colleagues in the Asia-Pacific and around the world to study treatment outcomes of people living with HIV, promote policies to expand access to care, develop youth leadership, and train communities and providers to improve the quality of HIV and hepatitis care in the region.
Dr. Annemarie Wensing
Dr. Wensing is a clinical virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, where she advises infectious disease specialists on their choice of antiretroviral regimen. Her research focuses on HIV drug resistance and latent viral reservoirs. She is co-leader of an amfAR-funded consortium of European researchers aiming to better understand and replicate the case of the “Berlin patient,” the first and only person known to have been cured of HIV.