WIHS Investigators and Co-Investigators
Mardge Cohen, Principal Investigator
Mardge Cohen has been the Principal Investigator of Chicago WIHS since its inception. She is an internist who worked at Cook County Hospital in Chicago for over 30 years, and has a long history of activism related to women’s health, health disparities, and fighting for high quality single payer health care. In 1988, she responded to the requests of women with HIV and started the Women and Children HIV Program to provide comprehensive medical and psychosocial services to women, their partners, and children at a single site at Cook County Hospital. She led the CDC funded research in Chicago on HIV testing among women in labor and then directed the public health implementation of rapid HIV testing in labor and delivery areas for all Illinois birthing hospitals. Since 1994, she has led the Chicago consortium of the National Institute of Health’s Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). She is especially interested in gender issues including women specific factors associated with mortality, intimate partner violence, and disparities in care. In 2004, she co-founded Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTx) to facilitate HIV primary care for women who were infected after being raped during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. WE-ACTx, with the Rwandan local organization WE-ACTx For Hope, provides comprehensive HIV care to over 2500 persons in Kigali, integrating mental health care, nutrition and income generation within HIV primary care for women, children, youth and their families. Since 2012, Dr. Cohen has co-led an NICHD research study to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy of 14-21 year olds with HIV in Kigali. The study will evaluate a trauma informed cognitive behavior therapy intervention conducted by trained and supervised HIV infected older youth.
Audrey French, Principal Investigator
Audrey French is a Professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases at Stroger Hospital. She has been caring for HIV-infected women and doing HIV-related research for over 25 years. She has been with WIHS study since 1997 and has chaired the Epidemiology Working Group and now chairs the Hepatitis/Liver Working Group. She has been the Director of Research at the CORE Center since 1998 and is the Chairwoman of the Cook County IRB, the board that is in charge of making sure research done at Cook County facilities is ethical and fair to participants. Her research interests are co-infections with HIV, such as hepatitis B and C,
tuberculosis and causes of death for women with HIV.
Kathleen Weber, Project Director and Co-Investigator
Kathleen Weber has been with the Chicago WIHS since its inception in 1994. Prior to joining the WIHS team, Kathleen worked in cardiac, medical and neurosurgical intensive care as well as community, hospice, and research settings caring for individuals across the age spectrum from newborns to the elderly. Given her background as a nurse, public health researcher, and health psychologist, she has a broad interest in the social, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to preventable and chronic disease burden in vulnerable populations. She has a particular interest in the root causes and far reaching effects of violence and traumatic life stress on individuals, families, and communities. Kathleen is committed to facilitating a collaborative interdisciplinary approach to understanding and addressing health inequities.