Ian Lipkin Receives Top Science Honor in China

January 8, 2016

Ian Lipkin, director of the Mailman School’s Center for Infection and Immunity, received China’s top science honor for foreign scientists, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, today, at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, presided by President Xi Jinping. The award recognizes Lipkin's outstanding scientific and technological contributions and promotion of scientific advancement in the country.

“I am deeply honored by this award,” said Lipkin, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and professor of Neurology and Pathology at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. “It solidifies my relationship with dear friends and colleagues in the Chinese Academy of Science, Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, and with the people of China.”

At the height of the SARS outbreak in 2003, Lipkin was invited by Chen Zhou, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Xu Guanhua, minister of Science and Technology, to assess the state of the epidemic, identify gaps in science, and develop a strategy for containing the virus and reducing morbidity and mortality. Once the outbreak was contained, Lipkin helped develop the institutional infrastructure needed to ensure that China would have the resources required to detect and more rapidly respond to emerging infectious threats, in part through building the Institut Pasteur in Shanghai, new national Centers for Disease Control in Beijing, and the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health. Today, he continues to consult with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Science, and the Ministry of Health.

Lipkin’s academic efforts in China focus on mentoring young Chinese scientists and encouraging China-born scientists abroad to return home for positions in diagnostics and discovery at China’s Centers for Disease Control, Institut Pasteur, and Wuhan Institute of Virology. He also serves as a member of the Scientific Steering Committee member of the Joint Center for Global Change Studies at Beijing Normal University.

Commenting on the importance for Chinese and foreign scientists to work together, Lipkin said, “Science is an increasingly global endeavor, and the free flow of information and resources is critical to promoting and realizing the promise of research and technology. The International Science and Technology Cooperation Award is testament to China’s commitment to this objective.”