Remembering Dr. Frank Plummer

The purpose of science and research is not to study the world, but to change it.

– Dr. Frank Plummer

Research Canada and the global health research community are mourning the loss of Dr. Frank Plummer, who died Tuesday, February 4th at the age of 67 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The former scientific director of Canada’s National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Dr. Plummer had a tremendous impact on global health throughout his career, leading groundbreaking research on HIV/AIDS and guiding Canadian public health through Ebola scares, SARS and H1N1. Dr. Plummer was a key figure in establishing an innovative research partnership between the University of Manitoba and the University of Nairobi focused on research and training in HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. At the time of his death, he was in Nairobi to speak at the 40th anniversary celebration of this collaborative partnership. As a result of his decades of work, Dr. Plummer has won multiple awards, including the Order of Canada in 2006, the Royal Society of Canada’s McLaughlin Medal in 2012 and the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in 2016.

In 2015, Dr. Plummer joined Research Canada as the keynote speaker at the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus Reception on Global Health Research and Innovation. In his speech, Dr. Plummer described his career in global health research and clinical practice as both surprising (HIV, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola did not exist when he graduate from the University of Manitoba with a medical degree) and rewarding (the discoveries he helped to make have saved millions of lives globally).

Recently, Dr. Plummer also spoke out about his experience with alcohol-use disorder and his decision to undergo experimental deep brain stimulation. As he told CTV News in December[i], participating in this clinical trial was not only a chance to get help for himself, but an opportunity to contribute to science. “I spent my whole life doing research, and here’s a different way of doing research,” he said.


[i] Favaro, A. & Jones, A. (December 15, 2019). Canadian Scientist undergoes novel brain stimulation treatment for alcoholism. CTB News. Retrieved from: