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Bio for W Ian Lipkin, MD

W. Ian Lipkin, M.D. directs the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A widely consulted expert on newly emerging infectious diseases, he has, as a recent New York Times profile put it, “built a reputation as a master virus hunter.”

Dr. Lipkin’s contributions to identifying and characterizing previously unknown agents and aspects of infectious disease are numerous and notable. He was the first to describe autoimmune neurologic disease in HIV/AIDS; the first use of genetic methods alone to identify an infectious agent (Borna disease virus); and the first to prove that West Nile virus was the cause of an encephalitis epidemic that struck New York City in 1999. In 2003, he assisted the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese Health Ministry in managing the SARS outbreak. 

In the past decade, Dr. Lipkin has identified at least 400 previously unknown viruses. Among them, a novel virus implicated in hemorrhagic fever in Zambia and South Africa (LuJo virus); a virus wreaking havoc in the farmed salmon industry in Europe, and a canine virus that’s the closest known relative of hepatitis C. He is also the inventor of new molecular tools that aid in identifying mysterious microbes.

Dr. Lipkin serves as the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Neurology and Pathology at Columbia University. He is Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Diagnostics, Surveillance and
Immunotherapeutics for Emerging Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases and is
also co-chair of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee (NBAS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His work has won dozens of U.S. and international honors.

For more information, visit his faculty profile.