Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO): Dr. Theresa Tam's biography

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About the CPHO

Dr. Theresa Tam

Dr. Theresa Tam was named Canada's Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) in June 2017. As the federal government's lead public health professional, she provides guidance to help protect the people of Canada against health threats, advance health equity and promote healthier communities, using the best available data and evidence.

Dr. Tam is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with expertise in immunization, emergency preparedness and global health security. As Canada's national public health leader, she has played an instrumental role in helping to guide Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rollout of the largest vaccination campaign in Canadian history. She has also played a leadership role in Canada's response to other public health emergencies, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza H1N1, Ebola virus disease and mpox.

Dr. Tam has held senior leadership positions at the Public Health Agency of Canada, including as Deputy CPHO and as Assistant Deputy Minister of Infectious Disease Prevention and Control.

During her over 25 years in public health, Dr. Tam has provided technical expertise and leadership to improve surveillance of communicable diseases and opioid harms, enhance immunization programs, strengthen health emergency management, and augment laboratory biosafety and biosecurity.

Education and credentials

Dr. Tam has a medical degree from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. She completed a pediatric residency at the University of Alberta and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia. She is also a graduate of the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program.

As CPHO, her annual reports to parliament have shed light on high-priority public health issues, such as promoting health equity, public health system transformation, and addressing the health impacts of climate change.

On the international stage, Dr. Tam has served as an expert on a number of World Health Organization committees and serves as an executive board member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes. Her work through the years as a champion for public health has been influential and instrumental in Canada, as well as internationally.

Stakeholder tables

Within the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network, Dr. Tam serves as:

  • federal co-chair of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network Council, the formal public health governance for federal, provincial and territorial governments working together to strengthen and enhance public health across Canada
  • a member of the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, a technical advisory forum that includes the federal, provincial and territorial Chief Medical Officers of Health
  • co-chair of the Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation in Public Health Working Group which supports the Public Health Network in advancing a distinctions-based Indigenous-led public health vision

She also serves as:

  • co-chair of the CPHO’s Health Professionals Forum, which brings together 19 national health organizations to collaborate and take action on public health issues of national importance
  • executive board member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, which builds global public health capacity and capabilities by connecting, developing and strengthening national public health institutes worldwide

Reports as CPHO

Select journal articles

  • Ogden, N. H., Turgeon, P., Fazil, A., Clark, J., Gabriele-Rivet, V., Tam, T., and Ng, V. (2022). Counterfactuals of effects of vaccination and public health measures on Covid-19 cases in Canada: What could have happened? Can Commun Dis Rep, 48(7/8), 1.Retrieved from
  • Tam, T. W. (2020). Preparing for uncertainty during public health emergencies: what Canadian health leaders can do now to optimize future emergency response. In Healthcare Management Forum (Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 174-177). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from
  • Tam, T. (2018). Fifteen years post-SARS: Key milestones in Canada's public health emergency response. Can Commun Dis Rep, 44(5), 98-101. Retrieved from
  • Bogoch, I. I., Creatore, M. I., Cetron, M. S., Brownstein, J. S., Pesik, N., Miniota, J., Tam, T., Hu, W., Nicolucci, A., Ahmed, S., Yoon, J. W., Berry, I., Hay, S. I., Anema, A., Tatem, A. J., MacFadden, D., German, M., & Khan, K. (2015). Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 West African outbreak. The Lancet, 385(9962), 29–35. Retrieved from
  • Schanzer, D. L., Langley, J. M., & Tam, T. W. (2006). Hospitalization attributable to influenza and other viral respiratory illnesses in Canadian children. The Pediatric infectious disease journal, 25(9), 795-800. Retrieved from
  • Skowronski, D. M., Astell, C., Brunham, R. C., Low, D. E., Petric, M., Roper, R. L., Talbot, P. J., Tam, T., & Babiuk, L. (2005). Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS): a year in review. Annual review of medicine, 56, 357–381. Retrieved from:
  • John, R. K. S., King, A., De Jong, D., Bodie-Collins, M., Squires, S. G., & Tam, T. W. (2005). Border screening for SARS. Emerging infectious diseases, 11(1), 6. Retrieved from
  • Cox, N. J., Tamblyn, S. E., & Tam, T. (2003). Influenza pandemic planning. Vaccine, 21(16), 1801–1803. Retrieved from


Email: CPHOCorrespondence@PHAC-ASPC.GC.CA

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