Zena Stein Papers Open for Research

Zena Stein at podium, HIV Center celebration in her honor at Faculty Club on October 2, 2003.

Zena Stein at celebration for her service at the HIV Center, Faculty Club, October 2, 2003.

Center for Biomedical Communications Photographs and Audiovisual Collection, 1980s-2008. Image 158660-D\039_36
Photographer: Charles Manley

Archives and Special Collections in the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library is pleased to announce that the personal papers of Zena Stein are now available for research.* Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, Stein is a recognized leader in in the study of reproductive epidemiology, particularly with regards to women and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

A South African-trained physician, Stein's early work in an Alexandra Township health clinic--one of the poorest areas in apartheid-era Johannesburg--stirred her lifelong interest in the study of health inequalities and social justice. She married Mervyn Susser while both attended medical school at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, and both went on to prominent careers in epidemiology at Columbia University. Stein served as Associate Dean of Research in the Mailman School of Public Health and co-founded (with Anke Ehrhardt) the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, a joint program of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University. Stein’s personal papers document her decades-long career at Columbia University, containing syllabi and other course materials, grants, reports, budgets, and academic articles. Her papers contain a large amount of correspondence between University and international colleagues in the fields of epidemiology.

Female Condom materials from the Zena Stein papers
Materials regarding the female condom from the Zena Stein papers, circa 1999

With the arrival of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Stein’s work focused on its impact on women. Her interest in women-initiated prophylactics in HIV prevention is evident in her papers, containing academic writings, grants, and correspondence relating to research in vaginal microbicides, the female condom, diaphragms and the NuvaRing.  Her papers contain presentation slides, writings, programs, and other conference materials regarding sexually transmitted diseases and sex workers, those afflicted by social and economic disparities in Africa, along with tuberculosis immunization in the global south.

In addition to documenting Stein’s career at Columbia University, her papers help document her work with other institutions in the global fight against the spread of HIV. These materials include correspondence, writings, brochures, and other material relating to the Africa Centre for Population Studies and Reproductive Health (now APHRC), Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Pan American Health Organization, and the Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR).

Stein was author to over two hundred academic papers. This collection contains her writings spanning her career from 1955 to 2011, including her research involving childhood development done prior to immigrating to the United States in 1965. The finding aid is now available via the Archives & Special Collections website, and the Columbia University’s online catalog.

Acquired in 2012 after the death of her husband Mervyn Susser, her papers—as those of Susser--will serve as an important resource in the history of epidemiology, generational health outcomes, South African health disparities, social justice, women’s reproductive health, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

*Please note that onsite research is only available to Columbia University faculty, students, and staff due to COVID-19. Read more here: https://www.library-archives.cumc.columbia.edu/research-access-rules-procedures-during-pandemic