Dr. Mathilde Krim, the founder and guiding spirit behind the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) died yesterday at the age of 91. Dr Krim was a noted researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City when the AIDS epidemic struck in the 1980’s. Moved by the plight of so many young men dying from a poorly understood disease, and realizing that individuals must take action when public support from then Reagan administration was not forthcoming, Dr.Krim decided to leave her lab and take up the cause of raising the resources necessary for scientists to find the cause, treatments and a cure for AIDS. Dr Krim was well positioned in society to do so, having many contacts in the arts in Hollywood and the East Coast, as well as with business and government elites. She utilized these contacts and networks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for AIDS research, beginning at a time when such support was absolutely critical and continuing into the present. Through AmFAR Dr Krim supported cutting edge research efforts and basic science all over the world, including in resource poor environments that would otherwise have had to access to groundbreaking research. These research efforts also included the Community Based Clinical Trials Network which gave FIGHT our original funding and supported us as we developed into a coherent research organization. Not only did AmFAR provide us with funding; the organization sponsored many national meetings where local physicians and local AIDS activists were able to meet and consider our research agendas with each other and learn from some of the most important researchers and scientists in the field. Dr. Krim was always at these meetings, lending all of us her personal support. When FIGHT got started, Dr. Krim traveled to Philadelphia to be with us and draw attention to our founding, giving our agenda a jump start in the local medical and scientific communities.
We at FIGHT owe our existence, to Dr Krim and to her tireless support and advocacy for people with AIDS. All the work we have done – our treatment centers; our cure research; our advocacy and service programs; our education programs – were able to develop and thrive because in 1990 Dr. Krim and AmFAR’s board of directors took a chance on a tiny new organization in a big city down the highway from New York City. None of it would have happened without her vision. And for all people living with HIV and for those at risk let us remember today that the fact that we now have effective treatments and we are close to a cure is due in no small part to her efforts. We at FIGHT extend our deepest condolences to the Krim family at this sad time, and to the board and staff of AmFAR.
We have all been enriched by Dr Krim’s time on this earth. Let us honor her memory today and every day by remaining committed to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic within the lifetime of those affected now. Rest in power Dr. Krim. Your legacy lives on in the many people whom you inspired and helped.