Krim was a pioneer of incredible foresight in the fight against HIV/AIDS. She founded the AIDS Medical Foundation (AMF) in 1983. AMF was the first private research organization that two years later branched out to form American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), which raised funds for clinical trials, prevention and public policy. AmfAR fundraisers were star-studded affairs that attracted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Sharon Stone and many others.
Born in Como, Italy, as Mathilde Galland, Krim studied medicine at the University of Geneva, earning a Ph.D in 1953. She then worked on cancer-causing virus research and helped establish a groundwork procedure for detecting the sex of a fetus. In 1958, she married New York attorney Arthur B. Krim, head of the United Artists Motion Pictures Company at the time, who would go on to be founder of Orion Pictures. At this point Krim moved to New York to join the Cornell University Medical School research staff. In 1962, Krim became a research scientist at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, assuming directorship of its Interferon Laboratory from 1981 to 1985. Most recently she was adjunct professor of Public Health and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
Krim was the founding chair of amfAR, and was chairman of the board from 1990 to 2004.
Tributes to Krim from people impacted by her unwavering work are pouring in.
Pete Staley from ACT UP described the trailblazing doctor as “a warrior against homophobia and AIDS-related stigma, dedicated defender of science and public health, and mother-figure and mentor to countless activists. [Mathilde Krim] will leave a deep hole in the continued fight against AIDS—a fight she dedicated her life to.”
New York City Council member Corey Johnson, recently elected, stated on Facebook:
“Today the world lost one of the most important figures in the history of the fight against HIV/AIDS. As an HIV-positive man who has been living with the virus for over 13 years, I know that I would not be alive today without the efforts of Dr. Mathilde Krim.”
As an angel on Earth, Krim championed civil rights, notably the early stages of the gay rights movement. She fought to end Apartheid in South Africa, and was a supporter of the State of Israel. In 2000, President Clinton awarded Dr. Krim the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Because of her immense, compassionate scientific contributions, Dr. Mathilde Krim has left the world a much better place.