Jul. 15 2010

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named W. Ian Lipkin, MD, co-chair of its National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee (NBAS).  As the subcommittee to the CDC, NBAS provides counsel to the federal government on the broad range of issues impacting the development and implementation of a nationwide biosurveillance strategy for human health.

NBAS was established in May 2005, in response to the Homeland Security Presidential Directive recognizing the emergence of significant health-related threats to the nation, to "ensure that the Federal Government is meeting the goal of enabling state and local government public health surveillance capabilities."

Comprised of recognized experts in their fields that advise on key priority areas, the subcommittee is an innovative body for advancing nationwide biosurveillance capabilities.  Serving as co-chair with Dr. Lipkin is Dr. Jeffrey Angle, state health director, North Carolina.

Dr. Lipkin, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology, was selected co-chair by CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH for his unique experience as director for the Mailman School of Public Health’s Center of Infection and Immunity. In particular, the CDC Advisory Committee cites his service as a Task Force Champion for NBAS, and his understanding of the importance of this subcommittee.

Dr. Lipkin’s work as a “microbe hunter” is at the frontiers of public health, creating and implementing state-of-the-art molecular tools in a global network to reduce the risks of acute and chronic diseases.  His contributions include the first use of purely molecular methods to identify an infectious agent; implication of West Nile virus as the cause of the encephalitis in North America in 1999; first use of deep sequencing in pathogen discovery; and discovery of more than 200 viruses including rhinovirus C, Dandenong, and LuJo.

Dr. Lipkin served in Beijing as an intermediary between the WHO and the Chinese government during the SARS outbreak of 2003, and co-directed SARS research efforts in China with current Minister of Health Chen Zhu.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Lipkin has assisted the CDC, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense in outbreaks of respiratory disease, hemorrhagic fever, meningoencephalitis, and vaccine safety investigations. 

NBAS’ first report, "Improving the Nation's Ability to Detect and Respond to 21st Century Health Threats," was released in October 2009, and included five high-level, cross-cutting recommendations to be considered by federal leadership. This year the subcommittee's six task forces will undertake issues related to governance, healthcare and public health information, innovative information sources, biosurveillance collaboration, biosurveillance workforce, and integrated multi-sector information.