Krim, Mathilde

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KRIM, MATHILDE (1926– ), U.S. medical researcher and philanthropist. Born in Italy to an Austrian Catholic mother and a Swiss Calvinist father, Mathilde Gallard was raised and educated in Geneva, Switzerland, and received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of Geneva in 1953 for her research in electron micrography. A convert to Judaism, in 1948 she married a Jewish medical student, David Danon, and together they worked on behalf of the *Irgun. After the couple moved to Israel with their daughter in 1953, Mathilde Danon became a research assistant at the Weizmann Institute in Reḥovot. She was soon promoted to junior scientist and then research associate, co-authoring several research papers, including "The Diagnosis of Sex Before Birth Using Cells from the Amniotic Fluid" (Bulletin of the Research Council of Israel 5b, 1955), which paved the way for the prenatal diagnostic technique known as amniocentesis. In 1958, after marrying a wealthy American, Arthur Krim, who was president of United Artists and also a prominent fundraiser for the Democratic Party, she moved to New York, where she became a researcher in virology, first at Cornell University Medical School and, after 1962, at Sloan-Kettering. Mathilde Krim's research and publications focused first on cancer-inducing agents, then on interferon, and finally on aids. From 1975 to 1985, she served as research scientist and director of the interferon laboratory at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York. Thereafter, she held an adjunct position as associate research scientist in the Columbia University School of Public Health, but devoted most of her energy to aids-related fundraising, supervisory, and lobbying activities.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Mathilde Krim was extremely active in the fight against aids. In 1983, she founded the aids Medical Foundation (amf), which merged in 1985 with another California-based group to form the American Foundation for aids Research (amfar), the preeminent national nonprofit aids research and advocacy organization. Krim chaired amfar's Board of Directors from its founding. She was also an active board member of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute, the National Biomedical Research Foundation, the Committee of 100 for National Health Insurance, the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the African-American Institute.

In recognition of her research contributions and her highly successful lobbying and fundraising efforts over the years, Krim received 13 honorary degrees and numerous other honors and distinctions. She served on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation (1966–69), the congressional advisory commission on the war against cancer (1970–71), and the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1979–81). In August 2000, Mathilde Krim was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in recognition of her "extraordinary compassion and commitment."


Paula E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, i (1997), 761–63; New York Times, Section 1 (Nov. 3, 1984), 48; Section 6 (Feb. 14, 1988), 30.

[Harriet Pass Freidenreich (2nd ed.)]