Educational Mentor of the Year Award

Elaine Abrams, MD Named Apgar Academy 2023 Educational Mentor of the Year

(established 2022)


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Elaine J. Abrams, MD

In recognition of transformative engagement in the lives of students, trainees, clinicians, and scholars at Columbia and throughout the nation, Elaine J. Abrams, MD is hereby named the 2023 Virginia Apgar Academy for Medical Educators Mentor of the Year.

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. 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. 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 continues to shape international program development as a leader in the HIV-focused scientific community.

Trainees and colleagues of Dr. Abrams testify to her “selflessness and her generosity” toward “creating a community of mission-minded researchers, clinicians, leaders and policy makers.”   One former resident writes, “ It is thanks to Elaine’s warm mentorship, so early in my career, that I have never shied away from caring for some of New York’s most vulnerable patients. Dr. Abrams was my first example of how to confront” social determinants of health in the exam room “with care, diligence and a healthy sense of pragmatism”. Another writes, “as a young investigator, it is easy to become distracted by many projects. I have thoroughly appreciated Elaine's ability to help me focus my research portfolio and be strategic about my own scientific agenda.” “She is the epitome of the definition of extraordinary mentor as she intuitively knows how to bring out the best in others while letting them own the process and success.”

Her mentorship transcends Columbia to further the lives of her mentees’ mentees: “Having crossed the bridge from mentee to mentor myself and having watched many of my colleagues struggle with their own mentors, I am cognizant of how difficult it can be to find a mentor who sincerely invests in the mentee's growth and gives the mentee a safe space to develop their vocation. Elaine is one of these exceptional individuals, and I have been privileged to be under her tutelage over the last decade.  We applaud Dr. Abrams for this distinction and join with all her students and trainees in the deepest thanks.

Dr. Abrams was recognized for this distinction at the annual Thomas Q. Morris Symposium Lecture on May 1, 2023.

Recipients of the Apgar Educational Mentor of the Year Award

2023 Elaine J. Abrams, MD

2022 Elisabeth B. Guthrie, MD