Statement from the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


This week, our colleague and friend Dr. Frank Plummer, Special Advisor to the Chief Public Health Officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, was announced as the recipient of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science throughout his career.

We would like to extend our congratulations to Dr. Plummer on his selection for this prestigious award. His dedication and contributions to health and research worldwide make him truly deserving of this honour.

Throughout the 1980s, Dr. Frank Plummer conducted research, facilitated by the University of Manitoba, on a large cohort of Nairobi sex workers, finding that two thirds of them had HIV/AIDS – an astonishing discovery at the time. He also showed that about ten percent of these sex workers remain HIV uninfected despite multiple exposures. This identification of natural resistance to HIV has guided vaccine development strategies. He went on to conduct work on mechanisms of resistance to HIV, risk factors for heterosexual transmission of HIV, mother-to-child transmission of HIV and developed public health strategies for control of sexually transmitted infections. Further research showed that many groups in addition to these female sex workers are immune to HIV. Over the next 16 years, Dr. Plummer remained in Nairobi, and this led to a series of investigations, international collaborations and some very important discoveries about susceptibility to HIV infection and transmissibility.

Dr. Plummer’s original and sustained contributions in this field have led to innovative strategies for HIV prevention at an internationally recognized level, and are being used around the world to prevent many thousands of HIV infections. Dr. Plummer, Distinguished Professor, University of Manitoba, is a pioneering researcher thanks to not only his ground-breaking HIV/AIDS work but also his leadership as Scientific Director General at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, leading the response to numerous outbreaks, including his support and contributions to the development of the Ebola vaccine programs in Canada, patient management for SARS in 2003 and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza outbreak.

Congratulations, once again, Dr. Frank Plummer, recipient of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. The millions of lives you have touched and improved through your work are a testament to your remarkable achievements in health and research. You have made the Public Health Agency of Canada proud.

krista outhwaite

Krista Outhwaite
President, Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Gregory Taylor

Dr. Gregory Taylor                                             
Chief Public Health Officer

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