By CARL ZIMMER
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Lipkin has built a reputation as a master virus hunter. He has developed ways to quickly identify familiar viruses and ways to search for new ones.
The emergence of H.I.V. in the 1980s first drove Dr. Lipkin to search for viruses. At the time, he was a neurology resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and was watching many patients fall ill with AIDS.
It took years for scientists to discover the virus responsible for the disease. Dr. Lipkin worried that in years to come, new viruses would claim more lives because of this lag. “I saw all this, and I said, ‘We have to find new and better ways to do this,’ ” Dr. Lipkin said.
One reason that viruses can be so hard to find is that they’re so small — typically a few millionths of an inch across.