To kick off the first Medicine Monday of the year, we are celebrating the work of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (The Mailman School) to combat COVID-19 in 2020.
Leading the charge for The Mailman School is Dr. Ian “Virus Hunter” Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection (CII). In January of last year, Dr. Lipkin traveled to China to meet with researchers and government officials on their response to the rapidly-spreading virus. Within months, he and his team developed an antibody test for SARS-CoV-2 and discovered the therapeutic effects of convalescent plasma for COVID-19.
Dr. Lipkin was just one of many Columbia researchers who advanced our knowledge of COVID-19 in 2020: Dr. Jeffery Shaman and his team studied the virus’ spread by asymptomatic carriers and how climate change impacts COVID-19. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr helped under-resourced countries develop a response plan. Dr. Micaela Martinez discovered startling disparities in the COVID-19 death rate between white and non-white patients in New York. Epidemiologist Sandra Albrecht led a social media-based communication project aimed at tackling the “infodemic” of misinformation surrounding COVID-19.
Although the discoveries of these scientists, including those not named here, were instrumental in shaping the world’s response to COVID-19 in 2020, it is important to note that their work is still ongoing. As Dr. El-Sadr said last month, “With so much at stake, we are working at full pitch and will not rest in our efforts to stem the tide of this pandemic.”