Dr. Mel Krajden, the medical director of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory, has been appointed to the Order of British Columbia.
He is recognized for his leadership in communicable disease control and contributions to the fields of hepatitis, HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV) and, most recently, COVID-19. He is one of 13 new appointees, announced by the province on B.C. Day.
“I am deeply honoured by this appointment. It acknowledges decades of work that I have been involved in,” said Dr. Krajden. “I also recognize that what I have accomplished sits on the shoulders of others, and typically involves a team effort – so thanks to all my colleagues who have made this honour possible.”
When COVID-19 first emerged as a new pathogen, under Dr. Krajden’s leadership, the Public Health Lab rapidly developed and validated a test to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. This allowed the province to begin testing people and detect early introductions of COVID-19 into B.C. In the weeks and months that followed, the test was rolled out to laboratories across the province to increase testing capacity and ensure timely results. Access to a diagnostic test has been critical to the management and control of the pandemic in B.C.
“We are fortunate to have Dr. Mel Krajden working to protect the health of British Columbians and I am thrilled he has been recognized with this honour,” said Benoit Morin, Provincial Health Services Authority’s (PHSA) president and chief executive officer. “I’m a relatively new colleague of Dr. Krajden’s and I have already seen how his leadership and foresight put B.C.’s COVID-19 response on the right track to avert an overwhelming epidemic.”
Prior to 2020, Dr. Krajden was recognized as a leader for his work in the field of hepatitis, where his efforts have focused on making testing and treatment broadly available so everyone, especially those experiencing challenges, get access to care. He helped create the B.C. Hepatitis Testers Cohort, a database containing de-identified medical information on testing, healthcare utilization and outcomes for 2.4 million individuals tested for, or diagnosed with, hepatitis B, C, HIV and TB infections since 1990. The information learned from the cohort has helped shaped clinical and public health guidelines and policy in Canada and globally.
He played a significant role in implementing HIV testing for diagnosis during the most infectious period of the disease, resulting in timely treatment and early communication with partners to prevent transmission. He also helped demonstrate the feasibility of using reduced HPV vaccine doses, and the utility of HPV testing as a cervical cancer screening tool.
“Public health in this province and this country owe a great deal of gratitude to Mel,” said Dr. Réka Gustafson, vice-president, public health and wellness for PHSA and deputy provincial health officer. “This field is all about protecting and improving the health of our communities and that’s exactly what’s happened with Mel at the helm of diagnostics.”
In addition to his role at PHSA, Dr. Krajden is also a professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of British Columbia.
The investiture ceremony will take place at Government House in Victoria in 2021.