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Marc Lipsitch

Marc Lipsitch, DPhil

Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard University.

“Scientists must resist the temptation to excessive skepticism: the kind that says no evidence is ever quite good enough. Instead they should keep their eyes open for any kind of information that can help them solve problems.”

Marc Lipsitch is Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (CCDD), an NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences MIDAS Center of Excellence. His group produced one of the earliest estimates of transmissibility of the SARS virus in real time in 2003 and provided a key estimate of the transmissibility of 1918 pandemic influenza, which helped to support the possibility of the use of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions to control the spread of future pandemics.

His team at CCDD played a leading role in the analysis and response to the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic, working closely with local, state, national, and international public health agencies. In addition to ongoing studies of pandemic and seasonal influenza burden, preparedness, and response, current research includes the application of population genomics to understand the spread of infections and the changes produced in bacterial population by human immunity, and modeling the effects of pneumococcal vaccination. Experimentally, his laboratory studies the immune response to and antigenic diversity of Streptococcus pneumoniae, combining molecular biology and animal studies with population genomics, epidemiology, and mathematical modeling.

He is an author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications on the impact of medical and public health interventions on the spread and evolution of infectious disease agents, and the consequences of these changes for human health. Dr. Lipsitch has received several outstanding young investigator awards and has served on the editorial advisory boards/associate editor of PLoS Medicine, Journal of Infectious Diseases, American Journal of Epidemiology, Epidemiology, and Epidemics. He has served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Working Group on H1N1 Influenza, as well as CDC’s Team B for the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

He has provided advice on antimicrobial resistance, SARS, or influenza to the Food and Drug Administration, WHO, CDC, Congressional Budget Office, Defense Science Board, and the governments of Canada and Mexico. He was a member of the winning team in the 2013 CDC “Predict the Flu” Challenge. Dr. Lipsitch received his BA in philosophy from Yale University, completed his doctoral work in zoology at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and did postdoctoral work at Emory University and at the CDC from 1995 to 1999. He joined the faculty of Harvard School of Public Health in 1999.

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