Navid Madani

Boston / Scientist

Dr. Navid Madani is a senior scientist at the Harvard Medical School, with a hospital appointment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who has committed her professional life to finding ways to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide. Her approach to this task uses a two-pronged approach: biochemical research combined with educational outreach to at-risk populations and the healthcare community that serves them. She is particularly invested in developing educational outreach in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), one of the only two regions in the world today where the HIV epidemic is expanding.
Dr. Madani uses a multidisciplinary approach to find preventive measures to inhibit HIV-1 transmission. Currently, she is the principal investigator on a study that is optimizing the application of a CD4-mimetic small-molecule inhibitor of HIV-1 infection as topical microbicides. Her studies have led to the biochemical characterization of two classes of small-molecules that bind HIV-1 gp120 and inhibit HIV-1 entry. This research emphasizes the need for HIV/AIDS drug discovery to work toward development of a microbicide to halt HIV transmission that is suitable for use in women—a population that is underserved and disenfranchised in many countries globally. In complement to her scientific research, Dr. Madani is the founding director of the Science Health Education (SHE) Center at Dana-Farber. The SHE Center is working to build healthcare capacity, particularly for women with HIV or cancer, in the MENA region by training, mentoring, and networking with early-career physicians and scientists in hospitals and institutions throughout the region and to facilitate interdisciplinary scientific and health research and dialogue in the MENA region.

Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Madani regularly traveled to the MENA region to present seminars at various universities and lead workshops on scientific capacity building and public health. She has received three Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) licenses to conduct her work in sanctioned countries. Her educational seminars are geared toward youth and women with the aim of advancing the understanding of reproductive health. During the global lockdown and travel advisories, she continued this work via remote conferencing, and hopes to resume in-person seminars soon.
Dr. Madani has authored or coauthored over 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and has written op-eds and given interviews to news organizations such as the Associated Press, Science magazine, and the BBC World News. Away from the laboratory and the seminar room, she is a scientist, mentor, cook, photographer, a marriage officiant for her friends and family, wife, and a proud mother of two spirited boys.