Elaine Abrams, MD

Senior Research Director

Dr. Elaine Abrams is a global thought leader in the prevention and treatment of HIV infection and associated infectious diseases in pregnant women, children, and families. A professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Columbia University, she was a founding member of ICAP at Columbia University. As part of ICAP’s core leadership team, Dr. Abrams is senior research director, supporting ICAP’s global research with a growing portfolio of studies of HIV prevention, care, and treatment. As an independently funded research scientist, Dr. Abrams also leads a number of studies optimizing HIV treatment and prevention across the life course for women during pregnancy and breastfeeding and for infants, children, and adolescents. Dr. Abrams’s expertise guides both US and global HIV policy and implementation planning through many avenues such as scientific leadership in the NIH-funded IMPAACT network and the WHO Pediatric Antiretroviral Working Group. During her tenure as co-chair of WHO’s HIV clinical guidelines group, multiple transformative innovations were introduced facilitating an accelerated global scale-up of HIV treatment to adults and children living with HIV.

Dr. Abrams has worked in perinatal and pediatric HIV prevention and treatment for over 30 years as a clinician, researcher, and public health practitioner. She has extensive experience in the design, implementation, and analysis of antiretroviral treatment studies of pregnant/postpartum women, infants, and children and has studied HIV prevention and treatment across the maternal-child lifecycle, including: early studies defining the risks for vertical transmission; pediatric and maternal HIV disease progression; antiretroviral treatment dosing, safety, and efficacy; drug optimization; HIV-exposed uninfected child health; ART strategy trials; and behavioral health outcomes and prevention, treatment, and sexual and reproductive health in adolescents and young adults. Her work has led to important insights on interplay of structural, behavioral, and biomedical factors influencing retention, adherence, and ART efficacy during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.

Dr. Abrams has also been deeply involved in ICAP’s PEPFAR-funded work supporting the global scale-up of HIV services across all populations in low-resource countries, with a particular focus on the needs of children. She has led several of the most innovative initiatives in prevention of new pediatric infections and treatment of children at ICAP, including the development of centers of excellence in multiple countries; product development (Positive Voices, EID Manual, PMTCT toolkit); the introduction of routine HIV testing of hospitalized pediatric patients; and numerous  innovations in models and approaches to care. Dr. Abrams is responsible for technical assistance and service programs, having served as principal investigator for the PEPFAR-funded Global Technical Assistance award, which provides wide-ranging technical assistance through 48 projects across 23 countries. She is currently principal investigator for the PEPFAR-funded Program Support Award, providing technical assistance, innovations in service delivery, and COVID-19 support in 19 countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Dr. Abrams continues to shape international program development as a leader in the HIV-focused scientific community.