Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center
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Faculty and Administrative Staff

Zena A. Stein M.A., M.B., B.Ch.

Zena A. Stein M.A., M.B., B.Ch.*

Presbyterian Hospital 18 Box53
Telephone: 305-9081
Fax: 928-5103

Biographical Skecth

Zena Stein is Professor (Emerita) of Public Health (Epidemiology) and Psychiatry at Columbia University and Co-Director, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute. She received her medical degree in 1950, from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She began her career in community health and primary health care in Alexandra, a township for Africans, then followed nearly a decade at Manchester University, working on epidemiological and family and cultural studies of mental retardation, child development, and psychiatric disorders. Since coming to New York in the mid 1960's, she has occupied her present academic and research positions at Columbia University.

Her research into mental retardation and developmental disabilities led to the large-scale studies of the effects of prenatal undernutrition on subsequent development in studies of the aftermath of the Dutch Famine of 1944/5 and in Central Harlem. In the same general area, she also initiated extensive epidemiological studies of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and malformations. Most recently, because of her deep concern with the HIV epidemic, she began to study prenatal and perinatal HIV infection and HIV infection in women. Since 1987, she has been co-director of the NIMH-funded HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Here she has major responsibilities for the problems of women and their pregnancies, in the U.S. and internationally. Her 270 papers and 5 books range over many social and epidemiological themes. She is often called to consult and lecture nationally and internationally, and has carried out several WHO consultancies. She has served on the Editorial Boards of professional journals, in the fields of epidemiology, public health, genetic epidemiology and teratology. She is Editor of the International Section, in the volume on Women's Health, Academic Press, 2000 and with Quarraisha Abdool Jarim wrote the chapter on Women and HIV/AIDS: a global perspective.

Dr. Stein is widely recognized as a pioneer in the movement to provide women with methods of protection that they might use in heterosexual relationships. Recognizing that in sexual encounters the male condom will often not be available as a device in women’s control, she has argued widely for developing and testing microbicides, physical barriers (especially the female condom) and behavioral strategies for women that confer "empowerment" in sexual encounters. She has urged studies of a hierarchy of strategies, so that women would be equipped to use what would confer the maximal level of protection, whatever the circumstance. She has explored the need for a microbicide and various physical barriers that may be used without necessarily exposing to discovery by her partner. At the same time, she has encouraged research on protection from HIV that might yet permit women to conceive when they feel the necessity to do so. Most recently, she has written on the need, in the US and South Africa, for family planning centers to communicate to their clients, the need for dual protection. On all these issues, Dr. Stein has initiated, or collaborated, or advised researchers, in the conduct of research studies to forward understanding of these issues. Recently, she has participated in the development of studies on childhood disability, including those associated with HIV in South Africa.

Dr. Stein has, in turn, initiated and been Principal Investigator of three NIH Training Programs: The Epidemiology of Mental Retardation (NICHD, 15 years), Behavioral Science Research in HIV Infection (NIMH, 10 years) and International Training Program in Research and Training in the Epidemiology of AIDS/HIV (NIH, Fogarty International Center, 7 years), which recently expanded to include training and research in tuberculosis.

Dr. Stein has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. In 1988 she was selected to be a Visiting Professor, National Institute of Mental Health, Lima, Peru. In 1992 she received the the Wade Hampton Frost award of the APHA. The University of Witwatersrand Medical School, Johannesburg, South Africa, awarded her the the Doctor of Science in Medicine (honoris causa) in 1993 and the 75th Jubilee Medal in 1997. She has been elected to senior membership of the Institute of Medicine in 1998 received the John Snow award, APHA in 1999. Dr. Stein was selected Honorary Professor, Escuela Nacional de Sanidad (the National School of Public Health of Spain), Madrid, Spain in 1999. She was the invited lecturer and recipient of the Thomas Francis, Jr. medal from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2000.

In 1999, she served with Mervyn Susser as scientific director of the Africa Center for Population and Reproductive Research, unique in Africa, funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust, and situated in a rural site in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. She has participated in the South Africa HIVNET grant (PI Dr. Salim S. Abdool Karim) and again joined in Dr. Karim’s successful application for membership in the NIH Prevention Trial Network. Beginning in 2000, she has held a Core Scientist title with the Sequella Global Tuberculosis Foundation’s Core Scientist Program of the TB Vaccine Collaboration.


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Last updated: April 9, 2012
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