A University of Guelph graduate and former professor has been named to Canada’s top public health role as the country balances declining COVID-19 cases with a fourth pandemic wave.
Dr. Harpreet Kochhar was appointed as president of the Public Health Agency of Canada effective Oct 12. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement among several changes in the senior ranks of the federal public service.
Since spring 2020, Kochhar has helped support the federal government’s efforts to fight COVID-19 as Canada’s associate deputy minister of health.
A veterinarian, Kochhar received his PhD in animal biotechnology from U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College in 1999 before becoming a professor in OVC’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. OVC has long promoted a One Health approach combining human, animal and environmental health for tackling infectious diseases.
Kochhar joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2002 as an animal biotechnology policy specialist.
He was appointed Canada’s chief veterinary officer in 2014, helping manage emerging disease threats to protect animal and human health.
He also served as an expert on animal biotechnology for the World Organization for Animal Health and with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2017, he was appointed as assistant deputy minister with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.