Ian Lipkin, MD
(Dir., Ctr for Infection & Immunity, Columbia Univ.)
3.7 – Aliens, Plagues, & Epidemics (9.8.11)
W. Ian Lipkin, MD, is internationally recognized as an authority on the use of molecular methods for pathogen discovery. Dr. Lipkin has over 30 years of experience in diagnostics, microbial discovery and outbreak response, has mentored and trained more than 30 students and post-doctoral fellows and leads a team of over 65 investigators, post-doctoral fellows and research and support staff in New York City and another 150 across the world. In the 1980s, Dr. Lipkin identified AIDS-associated immunological abnormalities and inflammatory neuropathy, which he showed could be treated with plasmapheresis, and demonstrated that early life exposure to viral infections affects neurotransmitter function. He was the first to use purely molecular methods to identify an infectious agent, developed MassTag PCR and GreeneChip technology and pioneered the use of high throughput sequencing in pathogen discovery. He and his team implicated West Nile virus as the cause of the encephalitis epidemic in New York in 1999 and have discovered or characterized more than 500 infectious agents including Borna disease virus, West Nile virus, LuJo virus and human rhinovirus C. Dr. Lipkin assisted the WHO and the Peoples Republic of China during the 2003 SARS outbreak and currently advises the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in addressing the challenge of MERS. He also directs large programs focused on autism and chronic fatigue syndrome wherein gene-environment interactions such as infection and intoxication are postulated to cause disease. Dr. Lipkin has been featured by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Discover Magazine, Nature Medicine, the History Channel, National Geographic, CNN, Fox, National Public Radio, Wired, and the Huffington Post. He was the chief scientific consultant for the Soderbergh film “Contagion” and is working on a new series for AMC.