Myron Cohen, MD
Yeargan-Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, and Immunology and Epidemiology
Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health
Director, Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases
Dr. Myron “Mike” Cohen directs the Institute and serves as associate vice chancellor for global health and medical affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An infectious disease specialist, he is widely known for his work on transmission and prevention of HIV. He is the architect and principal investigator of the multinational HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study which demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment prevents the sexual transmission of HIV-1. The journal Science recognized this work as the “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2011.
“The HPTN 052 results have galvanized efforts to end the world’s AIDS epidemic in a way that would been inconceivable even a year ago.”
— Bruce Alberts, Science editor, 2011
Leading world-class research and training
Cohen has built a long career at the University of North Carolina. His work has involved clinical research, global research, and use of the tools of epidemiology, virology and pharmacology. Dr. Cohen helped to develop laboratory methods to measure HIV in genital secretions, as well as methods to determine the best antiviral agents to reduce replication of HIV in these compartments. He is Co-Principal Investigator of the National Institutes of Health’s HIV Prevention Trials Network, or HPTN, currently in the middle of several large clinical trials, and a multi-national trial studying a new antibody to prevent HIV infection.
“Under Mike’s leadership, the UNC infectious diseases community has been indubitably marked by world-class research and training programs, and his own research pioneered HIV prevention treatment. He is gifted at recruiting talented and passionate faculty who have revved the research engine for global health.” — Ronald Falk, MD, chair, UNC Department of Medicine
Cohen served for 30 years as chief of UNC’s Division of Infectious Diseases, growing the division from 10 to more than 50 faculty physicians. Under his leadership, the division has become the primary provider for HIV care in North Carolina and has established unique collaborations with state leaders, local health departments, and the Department of Corrections. UNC trainees at all levels depend on the division for their learning experiences in Asia, Latin America and Africa, especially in Malawi, the flagship site for the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. Cohen stepped down from leading the division in 2019, handing the reins to longtime colleague Joseph Eron, MD. He continues in his many roles as researcher, physician, and Yeargan-Bates Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Epidemiology while directing the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and serving as the University’s associate vice chancellor for global health.
“HIV surfaced the year I started at UNC and has dominated every aspect of my career,” Cohen says. “My research team, focusing on HIV prevention, worked for two decades to demonstrate that treatment with antiretroviral agents prevents HIV transmission. I am proud that we were able to prove this to be true, and that the results we generated helped to change HIV management worldwide.”
Read “Expecting the Unexpected,” a look at how Myron Cohen helped UNC become a world leader in HIV research
Most recently, Cohen has played an active role in development of COVID-19 prevention activities. He serves on the NIH ACTIV Committee, a public-private partnership to organize COVID-19 research. As an executive committee member of the newly formed NIAID COVID Prevention Network (CoVPN), he is leading research on the use of monoclonal antibodies for the prevention and early treatment of COVID-19.
Robin Criffield, Program Administrator
M.D., Rush Medical College, 1974
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine, 1977
Diplomate, Subspecialty of Infectious Disease, 1982
Honors and Awards
North Carolina Award for Science
2013, State of North Carolina
Joseph E. Smadel Lectureship Award
2013, Infectious Diseases Society of America
O. Max Gardner Award for Medicine, Microbiology, & Public Health
2008, UNC-Chapel Hill
Distinguished Career Award Lifetime Achievement in STD/HIV Research
2005, American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association