Small Game Hunting: Microbial Diagnostics, Surveillance and Discovery in Acute and Chronic Diseases

Date(s) - 10/10/17
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Pancoe-NSUHS Life Sciences Pavilion

Hosted by
Northwestern Center for Genetic Medicine

Small Game Hunting: Microbial Diagnostics, Surveillance and Discovery in Acute and Chronic Diseases

Northwestern Center for Genetic Medicine

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The Center for Genetic Medicine of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine welcomes you to attend the Silverstein Lecture Series on October 10 (Evanston) and October 11 (Chicago), featuring W. Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and Director, Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health; and Professor of Pathology and Neurology, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University.

How do we track the emergence or re-emergence of an infectious disease? Recent advances in molecular and computational methods have greatly increased the global capacity for effective surveillance of infectious diseases in humans, wildlife, and domestic animals. These technological breakthroughs have also accelerated the pace of discovery in studies of microbial communities that live in our bodies and their roles in chronic illness and health. Professor Ian Lipkin, who served as chief scientific consultant for the Hollywood film, “Contagion”, will describe the promises and pitfalls facing a 21st century microbe hunter, drawing from his experience performing basic research, responding to emerging infectious threats and communicating science to the public.

W. Ian Lipkin, MD, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Neurology and Pathology at Columbia University, is internationally recognized for the development of genetic methods for microbial surveillance and discovery. He is Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University and the NIH Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery, Member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the NIH and Scientific Director of the Joint Research Laboratory for Pathogen Discovery in the Chinese Centers for Disease Control.

A graduate of the University of Chicago Laboratory School and Sarah Lawrence College, he obtained his MD at Rush Medical College, Medicine Residency at the University of Washington, Neurology Residency at the University of California San Francisco and Fellowship in Microbiology and Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. His contributions include the first use of genetic methods to identify an infectious agent, implication of West Nile virus as the cause of the encephalitis in North America in 1999, invention of MassTag PCR and the first panmicrobial microarray, first use of deep sequencing in pathogen discovery and molecular characterization of more than 900 viruses.

At the height of the 2003 SARS outbreak, he traveled to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of the WHO, the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, XU Guanhua, and the Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), CHEN Zhu, hand-carrying 10,000 test kits to Beijing. After training clinical microbiologists in their use, he returned to New York, became ill and was placed under quarantine. He nonetheless continued to co-direct SARS research efforts within CAS as Special Advisor through 2004. More recently, he was the sole external investigator to be invited by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia to assist in identifying reservoirs and vectors for transmission of the MERS coronavirus.

Dr. Lipkin has been active in translating science to the public through print and digital media. He acted as chief scientific consultant for the Hollywood film Contagion; has been featured in dozens of news publications including the New York Times, BBC and Wall Street Journal; and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, PBS Nova, Charlie Rose and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. In 2012, Dr. Lipkin was named “the world’s most celebrated virus hunter” by Discover Magazine. His honors include the following: Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, Japanese Human Science Foundation Visiting Professor, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons Visiting Bruenn Professor, American Society of Microbiology Foundation Lecturer, Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease, New York Academy of Sciences Fellow, National Center for Infectious Diseases Distinguished Lecturer, American Society for Microbiology Fellow, National University of Singapore John Courage Professor, National Institutes of Health Kinyoun Lecturer, Wildlife Conservation Society Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, Association of American Physicians Member, Oxford University Simonyi Lecturer and Mendel Medal Recipient. In 2016 he received the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, the top science honor in China, for his contributions to the advancement of science in the country.


The Silverstein Lecture Series was established by the Herman M. and Bea L. Silverstein Medical Research Fund for Genetic Medicine to bring advances in genetics research and medicine to the general public. The series features a renowned expert who discusses his or her research in a community forum. The events are always free and open to the public.