Marc Lipsitch has been promoted to professor of epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). He first joined the School’s faculty as an assistant professor in 1999, becoming an associate professor in 2004.
Over these years, Lipsitch has emerged as a creative and incisive investigator in the mathematical modeling of infectious disease transmission. At no time were his skills more apparent than during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Working with a team of students, fellows, and alumni, Lipsitch and HSPH faculty colleagues Megan Murray and James Robins helped to provide a significant service to public health. The team calculated the potential for the spread of SARS and published its work online at Science Express for expediency. Their model gauged that SARS was not the most infectious among diseases and predicted that the syndrome could be contained if SARS patients were isolated and their contacts quarantined. These insights came at an important time when policymakers and public health officials were coming to grips with the outbreak, and these were the measures that proved to be effective.
In addition to SARS, pandemic flu has also become a subject of interest to Lipsitch, who has drawn attention to the need to plan for multiple introductions of a pandemic-capable virus. His overall research interests include the epidemiology of pneumococcal infections and the factors that influence the spread of antibiotic resistance in a range of infectious diseases. As an epidemiologist, he is unusual in that his work encompasses both the analysis and modeling of epidemiological data, as well as lab research on immunity and drug resistance in pneumococci.
From 1992 to 1995, Lipsitch attended the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He earned his D.Phil. in zoology during that time. In 1991, he received his B.A. from Yale University in philosophy. Eleven years later, he was named an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Global Infectious Disease and was the recipient of the ICAAC Young Investigator Award from the American Academy of Microbiology.
Last year, Lipsitch was chosen by HSPH students to receive a Mentoring Award.
Lipsitch also served on the national Defense Science Board Task Force on SARS Quarantine.