In 1999, Lipkin and colleagues identified West Nile virus as the cause of an encephalitis outbreak in New York City. This led to recruitment of Lipkin to Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2001. Originally housed in the Department of Epidemiology, the group soon became known as the Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory before evolving into the schoolwide Center for Infection and Immunity in 2008.
In the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks in 2001, the NIH established a national network of biodefense centers and funded the CII's Northeast Biodefense Center (NBC), a consortium of more than 350 investigators in 28 academic and research institutions and 13 US-based government and international organizations. Over a period of 11 years the NBC built infrastructure in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that ultimately enabled the COVID-19 response in 2020 with programs that included diagnostics, passive immunotherapy, vaccines, and drugs as well as studies that yielded insights into the biology of emerging pathogens. The tools developed for identifying threats to human health and food security have been leveraged to investigate unexplained illnesses including neurodevelopmental disorders and ME/CFS.
Among the CII's many technological achievements and significant research milestones in Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as ME/CFS, we have also been active in public education via print, television, radio, and movies. Specifically:
- Consulted on the script as well as script, prop, and costume design for the 2011 movie "Contagion".
- Developed COVID-19 safety protocols used by the television and motion picture industry at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Collaborated with Steven Soderberg and Scott Z. Burns to work with the "Contagion" cast in recording the public service videos "Control the Contagion: Spreading Facts, Not Fear" in March 2020.
- Conducted site visits and provided recommendations for event protocols for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
- Coordinated the public service video shoot "Roll Up Your Sleeves" to promote COVID-19 vaccination in April 2021 in conjunction with Burns and New York State.
- Guided on-site protocols and coordinated international testing for the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.
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