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

Email: wil2001@columbia.edu

Education & Training

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

Biography

W. Ian Lipkin, M.D. is internationally recognized for his contributions to global public health through the innovative methods he developed for infectious disease diagnosis, surveillance, and discovery. He has over 35 years of experience in diagnostics, microbial discovery, and outbreak response, including:

- First use of subtractive cloning in microbial discovery
- First use of next generation sequencing for investigating outbreaks
- Developed gene capture technologies, including VirCapSeq-VERT and BacCapSeq as well as multiplexed serological assays to detect vector-borne diseases

These advances have been critical in replacing cultural-dependent methods of global health management by creating new criteria for disease causation and de-linking spurious associations between putative agents and diseases. Such examples include refuting the claims of MMR vaccine having a role in autism and XMRV having a role in ME/CFS.

Lipkin has been at the forefront of outbreak response to many of the world’s recent outbreaks. 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 1,500 viruses, and was the first to use high throughput sequencing for pathogen discovery.

In 2003, Lipkin 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. Lipkin received the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2016 from President Xi and an award of appreciation in 2020 from the Chinese Counsul General in New York on behalf of the Chinese government for his work on SARS during the PRC’s 70th anniversary celebration. He was the only American scientist to receive the appreciation award.

In 2003, Lipkin also 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 consulted with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the MERS in the 2012-16 outbreak, utilizing a mobile lab able to fly in the luggage compartment of a commercial plane. They discovered the original reservoir for disease was most likely camels. During the Zika outbreak in 2016, Lipkin obtained an EUA from the FDA for the CII-ArboViroPlex rRT-PCR Test, the first multiplex assay that simultaneously tests for the presence of Zika virus, all serotypes of dengue virus, chikungunya virus, and West Nile virus alongside a host gene for accurate results.

In September 2017, the Center for Solutions for ME/CFS (CfS for ME/CFS) launched. The NIH-funded project is an inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional center comprised of clinicians, clinical investigators, and basic scientists who are committed to working together to understand the pathogenesis of ME/CFS and develop evidence-based strategies for interventions that prevent and mitigate disease. Lipkin serves as the center director and leader of Project 1 (microbiology and ME/CFS).

In January 2020, Lipkin traveled to Shenzhen and Beijing to consult with collaborators at Sun Yat-sen University and long-time colleagues in the China CDC and Chinese Academy of Sciences. Upon returning back to the US, he self-isolated for 14 days, as per the US CDC recommendations and immediately began to work on establishing serology, testing, and plasma projects as potential therapies for COVID-19 cases. However, Lipkin contracted COVID-19 through community transmission in March and remained in self-isolation until he recovered. By April, CII received EUA approval from the FDA for use of serology testing in the four plasma therapy studies.

Lipkin 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.

Lipkin served 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 on-going collaborations, projects, and consulting with the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, Agilent Technologies, Pfizer, Roche 454 Life Sciences, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org, Amazon LLC, the Skoll Foundation, Institut Pasteur, OneHealth Alliance, and the Pandemics Defense Group.

He has been featured by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Discover Magazine, Nature Medicine, PBS, National Geographic, National Public Radio, CGTN, India Today, the Dr. Oz Show, 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.

Selected Honors

- Award of Appreciation, People's Republic of China, 2020
- Silverstein Lecturer, Northwestern University, 2017
- China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, 2016
- Bernard Fields Lecture, 2015
- Villanova University Mendel Medal, 2014
- Oxford University Simonyi Lecturer, 2013
- Drexel Award in Translational Medicine, 2013
- Member of the Association of American Physicians, 2010
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009
- Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society, 2009
- Kinyoun Lecturer, National Institutes of Health, 2009
- John Courage Professor, National University of Singapore, 2009
- Fellow of the American Society for Microbiology, 2006
- Distinguished Lecturer of the National Center for Infectious Diseases
- Dalldorf Research Physician, New York State Department of Health
- Sarah Lawrence College Millennium Commencement Speaker, 2006
- Honorary and Founding Director Beijing Center for Infectious Diseases, 2005
- Fellow of the New York Academy of Science, 2004
- University of California Irvine Distinguished Lecturer, 2003
- Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease, 2001
- American Society of Microbiology Foundation Lecturer, 2001-2003
- Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons Visiting Bruenn Professor, 2000
- Japanese Human Science Foundation Visiting Professor, 1999
- Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, 1991
- National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Young Investigator Award, 1991
- National Institutes of Health Clinical Investigator Development Award, 1987-1992

Selected Publications

Lipkin WI. Microbe Hunting. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 2010 September;74(3):363-377. doi: 10.1038/mp.2009.143

Palacios G, Lovoll M, Tengs T, Hornig M, Hutchinson S, Hui J, Kongtorp R-T, Savji N, Bussetti AV, Solovyov A, Kristofferson AB, Celone C, Street C, Trifonov V, Hirschberg DL, Rabadan R, Egholm M, Rimstad E, Lipkin WI. Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation of farmed salmon is associated with infection with a novel reovirus. PLoS One. 2010 July;5(7):e11487. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000972

Briese T, Paweska JT, McMullan LK, Hutchison SK, Street C, Palacios G, Khristova ML, Weyer J, Swanepoel R, Egholm E, Nichol ST, Lipkin WI. Genetic detection and characterization of LuJo virus, a new hemorrhagic fever-associated arenavirus from southern Africa. PLoS Pathogens. 2009 May;5(5):e1000455. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000455

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: 10.1126/science.114698

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. ISSN: 0140-6736

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

Briese T, de la Torre JC, Lewis A, Ludwig H, Lipkin WI. Borna disease virus, a negative-strand RNA virus, transcribes in the nucleus of infected cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1992 December;89(23):11486-9. PMCID: PMC50576

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. Click here to see more publications.