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expert encounter: Prof Ian Lipkin, Columbia University

Prof Ian Lipkin is an internationally recognized authority on the use of molecular methods for pathogen discovery. He was in the UK to speak at a CFS/ME conference and came to the SMC for an Expert Encounter with journalists.

He is an expert on everything from Ebola and SARS to CFS/ME and autism. He 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 he 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. He 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.


Prof Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Neurology and Pathology, Director of Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University and Scientific Director of Joint Research Laboratory for Pathogen Discovery

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