Marc Lipsitch is an American epidemiologist and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also the Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. He is currently working on modeling the transmission of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Lipsitch attended Yale University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1991. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, studying zoology, and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1995. There, he studied under Robert May and Martin Nowak. He then returned to the United States for his postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University from 1995 to 1999. During that time, he worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before joining the faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Lyrics to the song that was inspired by the interview:
THE TERRIBLE TALE OF GAIN- OF- FUNCTION RESEARCH UNDER THE STREETLIGHT
I was reading in the Lancet just the other day
About the risk and benefits of gain-of-function
How some thought it desirous
Give functions to a virus
Of virulence and transmissibility
Thereby enabling assessment
to inform investment
In preparedness plans for pandemics
But what was the cause of the funding pause?
Human error in high containment labs
We can't even predict
How influenza hits
From one season to the next
Instead of understanding these
And improving the vaccines
They look for answers where the looking's good
Testing out the 'ifs'
And sequencing the 'whats'
Like, how about if this virus was airborne
Cos if we know, how transmission goes
We're better prepared to prevent it
From ferret, to ferret
Really is there merit?
Research it, regret it
Disaster you'll inherit
From mammal to mammal
It's utterly disparate
Don't get it? Don't sweat it?
It'll kill if you let
"Why are you looking under the streetlight?
Do you think the answer's over there"
The searcher answered with a spurious riposte
"No, but the light is brighter over here"