amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Program Board Member Tapped for MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr Recognized as Pioneering Global Health Leader


September 24, 2008—Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a long-time member of amfAR’s board of trustees who currently serves on the Foundation’s program board and its global initiatives committee, has been named as one of 25 new MacArthur Fellows.

Waafa El-Sadr
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr 
Widely respected for her pioneering work preventing and treating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in Harlem and in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. El-Sadr is professor of clinical epidemiology and director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is also professor of clinical medicine at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Harlem Hospital Center.

“This is a huge honor and a great responsibility,” said Dr. El-Sadr. “My hope is that this fellowship will allow my colleague and me to work on new strategies to confront the HIV epidemic in the US and around the globe.”

Winners of the MacArthur Fellowships, commonly known as the “genius grants,” receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support for the next five years. The grants are awarded for dedication and creativity in a broad spectrum of areas, from science and music to history and art.

Dr. El-Sadr was honored by amfAR and the Mailman School on World AIDS Day in 2004 for her ground-breaking research on women and HIV/AIDS. (She also received an amfAR grant in 1990 to study prevention of HIV transmission among couples in Harlem.) According to the MacArthur Foundation, her advances have included “introducing multi-pronged treatment strategies for some of the most pressing pandemics of our time— HIV/AIDS and TB—diseases that often afflict people with the least access to quality health care.”

She is experienced in the development of programs that are both service-related and research-oriented. Since 2002, Dr. El-Sadr has been the director of the MTCT Plus Initiative at the Mailman School, a unique program focused on the development of comprehensive HIV care and treatment programs for women and their families in resource-limited countries.