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Mathilde Krim

1926 –

“Institutions should serve people, but unfortunately it’s often the other way around. People give their allegiance to an institution, and they become prisoners of habits, practices, and rules that make them ultimately ineffectual.”

First Aider

Italian born,Mathilde Krim moved to New York after graduating from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She got a job at the Cornell University Medical School. By 1981 she had become a research scientist at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center and from 1981 to 1985, she was the director of its interferon department. It was during these years that the first cases of what would later be called AIDS were reported. 

In 1981 Krim started the AIDS Medical Foundation and tapped her prodigious social circle for funds. Krim’s husband, Arthur, was an attorney, head of United Artists Motion Picture Company, founder of Orion Pictures and a one-time finance chairman of the Democratic Party. By gathering attention and support from the social and political elite, Dr. Krim helped de-stigmatize AIDS. In 1985, she merged her group with another foundation in California, forming the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), chaired by actress Elizabeth Taylor. The group has raised millions to fund innovative and early-stage AIDS research. 

About founding amFAR, Elizabeth Taylor said, “I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything. And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.” When her longtime friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS, Taylor soon thereafter became committed to speaking out against discrimination and for compassionate care. Elizabeth Taylor gave her face, voice and funding to amFAR. She demonstrated, as she said, “Celebrity is not something that comes without responsibility.”


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