Jun. 24 2019

In honor of philanthropist Phyllis Mailman, The Mailman Foundation, the Joshua Mailman Foundation, and The Tow Foundation, have together endowed the Phyllis Mailman Professorship to support groundbreaking emerging infectious disease research at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. The endowed professorship will be based in the Mailman School’s world-class Center for Infection and Immunity (CII), led by director W. Ian Lipkin, MD, a globally-recognized microbe hunter who has identified more than 1,500 novel viruses. The newly created faculty position will support a distinguished researcher in the field of emerging infectious diseases.

The Phyllis Mailman Professorship will help us continue to lead in discovery, surveillance, diagnostics, and response to infectious diseases. This gift has the potential to save thousands, perhaps millions, of lives,” said Lipkin. “I am grateful for this generous support for our faculty.”

The Center for Infection and Immunity is one of the world’s leading academic centers focused on microbial surveillance, discovery, and diagnosis. In recent years, Dr. Lipkin and his team have helped to reduce the impact of numerous pathogens, including viruses that cause respiratory diseases, hemorrhagic fever or neurodevelopmental damage in humans, such as SARS, MERS, Lujo, Ebola, and Zika. They have advanced critical knowledge on wildlife reservoirs of emerging infectious diseases, pathogenic threats to food security; the role of the human microbiome in disease pathogenesis; and the mechanisms of several diseases, including autism and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The CII has also pioneered the development and implementation of cutting-edge diagnostic tools, including the world’s first multiplex test for tick-borne illness, and powerful precision medicine platforms for detecting and characterizing all known viruses and bacteria.

“Our mother, Phyllis, has long been a strong advocate of public health. She is particularly committed to preventing disease through the work of the Center for Infection and Immunity whose important research impacts the health of entire populations,” said Jody Wolfe, President of The Mailman Foundation. “This gift underscores my mother’s dedication to the School and commitment to its continued growth as a world-renowned public health institution.”

In 1998, Mrs. Mailman and her children, Jody Wolfe and Joshua Mailman, made a transformative gift to Columbia University in honor of their late husband and father, Joseph L. Mailman. This gift made it possible for the School to move to its current building on the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus. Since 1998, the Mailman family has remained actively involved and connected with the School, with several family members serving on the School’s Board of Overseers.

“I am deeply appreciative of the visionary leadership of the Mailman and Tow families, and honored to have their partnership through the years,” said Dean Linda P. Fried. “As members of the Board of Overseers, Jody, Josh, and Leonard Tow have not only provided an incredible opportunity to recruit a world-leading scientist to help stop the spread of disease and forge new paths in combating emerging viral threats, but also have helped the School advance one of its key philanthropic goals: to secure vital funding to recruit and retain exceptional faculty members.  The Phyllis Mailman Professorship will help us to catapult our Center for Infection and Immunity to a new level of eminence. It is a transformative moment, and we are grateful for this remarkable commitment from these members of our board.”