Marc Lipsitch

Director and Professor of Epidemiology
Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology

Marc Lipsitch is Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is an internationally-recognized expert in methods and disease transmission modeling, and has been a leading scientific authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Lipsitch is an author of more than 350 peer-reviewed publications on antimicrobial resistance, epidemiologic methods, mathematical modeling of infectious disease transmission, bacterial and human population genetics, immunity to Streptococcus pneumoniae, and COVID-19 epidemiology. His research informs the use of transmission-dynamic simulations to improve the design of randomized and observational studies of infectious disease interventions, and bioethics related to infectious diseases and clinical trials in emergencies.

His recent COVID-19 research builds on 20 years of groundbreaking work on SARS, pandemic influenza, and other emerging infections, as well as on the seasonality of influenza and coronavirus disease, which has contributed to the foundation for modern pandemic response. This includes real-time estimation of SARS transmissibility and modeling of control measures, and calculating the reproductive number for the 1918 “Spanish flu” and severity of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, which has informed non-pharmaceutical interventions such as physical distancing. During the present pandemic, Dr. Lipsitch has been featured in thousands of press articles and media interviews from CNN and BBC, to the Guardian and Wall Street Journal, and writes in and is interviewed regularly for outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post on COVID-19.

Additionally, Dr. Lipsitch was a co-founder of the Cambridge Working Group in 2014, whose efforts helped to initiate a pause in US government funding for research involving the creation of potential pandemic pathogens, such as transmission-enhanced avian influenza strains. He has written extensively on aspects of science policy in relation to such studies.

Dr. Lipsitch has received awards for research, publications, mentoring and journal reviewing. He was elected to the National Academies of Medicine in 2020, for his pre-COVID-19 scientific accomplishments. In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and in 2014 he received the Robert Austrian Award for contributions to pneumococcal research. He is or was on the editorial advisory boards/associate editor of eLife, PLoS Medicine, Journal of Infectious Diseases, American Journal of Epidemiology, Epidemiology, and Epidemics. He currently serves on the Massachusetts Governor’s Medical Advisory Committee, and both the Massachusetts and WHO COVID-19 Vaccine Working Groups. He has also 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 and several advisory groups during the 2014-5 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He has provided advice to the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, Congressional Budget Office, Defense Science Board, several pharmaceutical companies and the governments of Canada, Mexico, India, Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.

Dr. Lipsitch joined the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health in 1999, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University with Dr. Bruce Levin, and a visiting scientist appointment at CDC. He received a D.Phil. in Zoology as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford, where he studied with Drs. Robert May and Martin Nowak, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University.

In August 2021, Dr. Lipsitch was named Director for Science at the new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics at the US CDC, where he is on part-time loan from HSPH.