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Public Health Agency of Canada appoints new Scientific Director General of the National Microbiology Laboratory and Laboratory of Foodborne Zoonoses

Clinical microbiologist Dr. Matthew Gilmour appointed to the role

December 23, 2014 – Ottawa, ON – Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada today announced the appointment of Dr. Matthew Gilmour as the new Scientific Director General National Public Health Laboratories, responsible for the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg and the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses (LFZ) in Guelph, Ontario. Dr. Gilmour will begin his position in February 2015.

Dr. Gilmour is currently a clinical microbiologist with Diagnostic Services of Manitoba and an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Manitoba. He is also a past employee of the Agency where he held the positions of Director of Bacteriology and Enteric Diseases and the Chief of Enteric Diseases at the NML.

The Scientific Director General is responsible for managing the delivery of laboratory public health and emergency preparedness programs, providing strategic scientific advice to senior officials and representing Canada’s top human health laboratories nationally and internationally.

The position is being filled following the retirement of Dr. Frank Plummer.  To staff the position, the Agency ran a national competition to find the most qualified and best-suited candidate. Dr. Gilmour was selected following a rigorous process and he will bring his experience and scientific leadership to this important role.

Quick Facts

  • As Canada’s leading public health infectious disease laboratory, the NML is responsible for the identification, control and prevention of infectious diseases.
  • The NML is located in the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg, the first facility in the world to have high containment laboratories for human and animal health in one building.
  • The Agency’s public health laboratories range from biosafety level 2 to level 4 designed to accommodate the most basic to the most deadly infectious organisms. The NML houses the only set of level 4 laboratories in Canada.
  • Currently the NML has two mobile laboratories and four scientists in Sierra Leone conducting rapid laboratory diagnostic support to assist in the Ebola outbreak response.
  • Scientists at the NML were responsible for the development of Canada’s experimental Ebola vaccine which is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials in Canada, the United States, Europe and Africa.
  • The Agency’s LFZ focuses on preventing infectious disease by looking at public health risks that come from the interactions between animals, humans and the environment, such as foodborne illnesses and antibiotic resistance – also known as the ‘One Health’ approach.
  • The process established for this appointment, and all appointment processes in the public service, hinge on the core values of merit and non-partisanship.
  • The public service appointment process has checks and balances in place to ensure that candidates are well-qualified, representative of the Canadian community and able to serve the public with integrity.


“The work of the Agency’s public health laboratories is crucial for public health research, surveillance and outbreak preparedness response. The laboratories are responsible for some of Canada’s premier public health accomplishments such as decreasing Canadians’ exposure to dangerous foodborne infections and the development of Canada’s experimental Ebola vaccine. I am pleased to welcome Dr. Matthew Gilmour as the Scientific Director General of the Agency’s National Public Health Laboratories to continue the valuable work of our world renowned facilities.”

Honourable Rona Ambrose,
Minister of Health

“The position of Scientific Director General is a mix of the promotion of scientific innovation, providing scientific advice and the executive management of two large national laboratories. The Agency’s laboratory work is essential to the future prevention and control of some chronic diseases, and existing and emerging infectious diseases. Dr. Gilmour’s experience, scientific credentials and past work at the Agency make him the ideal candidate for this job.”

Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“I know first hand the level of commitment, the skills and the scientific qualifications needed to run a large national laboratory. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Gilmour both in his past work at the Agency and as a colleague at the University of Manitoba; and I feel that his skills and research experience make him an excellent choice for this position.”

Dr. Frank Plummer
Professor of Medicine and Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba
Former Scientific Director General of the National Microbiology Laboratory

“I am exceptionally honoured to have been chosen as the new Scientific Director General of the Agency’s National Public Health Laboratories. I know first-hand the impactful work that the Agency’s laboratory teams complete with the provincial public health laboratories, with other federal departments and with international collaborators. As I rejoin these teams, I very much look forward to our continued scientific innovation and research on infectious diseases to benefit both the health and safety of Canadians, but also the international community.”

Dr. Matthew Gilmour
Clinical microbiologist, Diagnostic Services of Manitoba
Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba


Caption: Dr. Matthew Gilmour

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983