W. Ian Lipkin, MD

John Snow Professor of Epidemiology
Director, Center for Infection and Immunity
Professor of Neurology and Pathology, Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
Director, Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery

Email: wil2001@columbia.edu


Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, BA, 1974
Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, M.D., 1978
Clinical Clerk, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK, 1977-78
Intern in Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 1978-79
Resident in Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1979-81
Resident in Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, 1981-84


W. Ian Lipkin, M.D. is internationally recognized as an authority on the use of molecular methods for pathogen discovery and the role of infection in neurologic and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Dr. Lipkin has over 30 years of experience in diagnostics, microbial discovery and outbreak response. He has mentored and trained over 30 students and post-doctoral fellows and leads a workforce of over 65 principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows and research and support staff with expertise in sample and database management, bioinformatics, biostatistics, diagnostics, molecular biology, experimental pathology, serology, culture, animal models, and staged strategies for efficient pathogen discovery and proof of causation.

In the 1980s, Lipkin identified AIDS-associated immunological abnormalities and inflammatory neuropathy, which he showed could be treated with plasmapheresis. He also demonstrated that early life exposure to viral infections affects neurotransmitter function. Lipkin was the first to use purely molecular methods to identify infectious agents. In 1999, he identified West Nile virus as the cause of encephalitis in North America. He developed MassTag PCR and Greenechip technology, two multiplex assays that have been used to identify and characterize more than 800 viruses, and was the first to use high throughput sequencing for pathogen discovery. In April of 2003, he sequenced a portion of the SARS virus directly from lung tissue, established a sensitive assay for infection, and hand carried 10,000 test kits to Beijing at the height of the outbreak. He became ill shortly after returning to the US and was quarantined. As the first foreign consultant to gain the confidence of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Science he was named Special Advisor to China for Research and International Cooperation in Infectious Diseases. In 2003, Lipkin helped to establish the Norwegian Autism Birth Cohort (ABC), the largest prospective birth cohort devoted to investigating gene-environment-timing interactions and biomarker discovery.

Lipkin serves as Director of the Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery, Scientific Director of the Joint Research Laboratory for Pathogen Discovery with the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention of the China CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Diagnostics, Surveillance and Immunotherapeutics for Emerging Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases, the only academic WHO Center focused on diagnostics and discovery. He has ongoing collaborations and projects with the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, USAID PREDICT, US Department of Agriculture, US Food and Drug Administration, Agilent Technologies, Pfizer, Roche 454 Life Sciences, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org, Institut Pasteur, and OneHealth Alliance.

He has been featured by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Discover Magazine, Nature Medicine, the History Channel, National Geographic, National Public Radio, Wired, the Huffington Post, This Week in Virology, WNYC, and Steven Soderbergh's film Contagion.

He is Honorary Director of the Beijing Infectious Disease Center, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institut Pasteur de Shanghai and serves on boards of the Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, the Guangzhou Institute for Biomedicine and Health, the Consortium for Conservation Medicine, Tetragenetics, and 454 Life Sciences Corporation.


  • National Institutes of Health Clinical Investigator Development Award, 1987-1992
  • National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Young Investigator Award, 1991
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, 1991
  • Japanese Human Science Foundation Visiting Professor, 1999
  • Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons Visiting Bruenn Professor, 2000
  • American Society of Microbiology Foundation Lecturer, 2001-2003
  • Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease, 2001
  • University of California Irvine Distinguished Lecturer, 2003
  • Fellow of the New York Academy of Science, 2004
  • Honorary and Founding Director Beijing Center for Infectious Diseases, 2005
  • Sarah Lawrence College Millennium Commencement Speaker, 2006
  • Dalldorf Research Physician, New York State Department of Health
  • Distinguished Lecturer of the National Center for Infectious Diseases
  • Fellow of the American Society for Microbiology, 2006
  • John Courage Professor, National University of Singapore, 2009
  • Kinyoun Lecturer, National Institutes of Health, 2009
  • Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society, 2009
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009
  • Member of the Association of American Physicians, 2010
  • Drexel Award in Translational Medicine, 2013
  • Oxford University Simonyi Lecturer, 2013
  • Villanova University Mendel Medal, 2014
  • Bernard Fields Lecture, 2015
  • China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, 2016
  • Silverstein Lecturer, Northwestern University, 2017


Lipkin WI, Travis GH, Carbone KM, Wilson MC. Isolation and characterization of Borna disease agent cDNA clones. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1990 June;87(11):4184-8. PMCID: PMC50576

Hornig M, Weissenböck H, Horscroft N, Lipkin WI. An infection-based model of neurodevelopmental damage. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1999 October;96(21):12102-7. PMCID: PMC18419

Jia X-J, Briese T, Jordan I, Rambaut A, Chi HC, Mackenzie JS, Hall RA, Scherret J, Lipkin WI. Genetic analysis of the West Nile New York 1999 encephalitis virus. Lancet. 1999 December;354(9194):1971-2. ISSN: 0140-6736

Lamson D, Renwick N, Kapoor V, Liu Z, Palacios G, Ju J, Dean A, St. George K, Briese T, Lipkin WI. MassTag polymerase-chain-reaction detection of respiratory pathogens, including a new rhinovirus genotype, causing influenza-like illness in New York State, 2004-2005. J Infect Dis. 2006 October;194(10):1398-402. doi: 10.1126/science.114698

Palacios G, Druce J, Du L, Tran T, Birch C, Briese T, Conlan S, Quan P-L, Hui J, Marshall J, Simons JF, Egholm M, Paddock CD, Shieh W-J, Zaki S, Catton M, Lipkin WI. Discovery and implication of a novel arenavirus in a cluster of fatal transplant associated disease. NEJM. 2007;358:991.

Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, Bauman M, Lauwers G, Siemetzki U, Hummel, K, Rota P, Bellini W, O’Leary J, Sheils O, Alden E, Pickering L, Lipkin WI. Lack of association between measles virus virus vaccine and autism with eneropathy: a case-control study. PLoS One. 2008 Sep;3(9):e3140. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000455

Epstein J, Quan P-L, Briese T, Street C, Jabado O, Conlan S, Ali Khan S, Verdugo D, Hossein J, Luby SP, Daszak P, Lipkin WI. Identification of GBV-D, a novel GB-like Flavivirus from old world frugivorous bats (Pteropus giganteus) in Bangladesh. PLoS Pathogens. 2010 July;6(7):e100972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011487

Stoltenberg C, Schjolberg S, Bresnahan M, Hornig M, Hirtz D, Dahl C, Lie KK, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Schreuder P, Alsaker E, Oyen A-S, Magnus P, Suren P, Susser E, Lipkin WI, the ABC Study Group. The autism birth cohort: a paradigm for gene-environment-timing research. Mol Psychiatry. 2010 June;15(7):676-680. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00007-10

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