Duncan MacCannell PhD, MBT
Director, Office of Advanced Molecular Detection
Duncan MacCannell, PhD, MBT, is director of the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection (OAMD) at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). Since the late 2000s, he has championed the role of emerging next-generation sequencing technologies to transform infectious disease public health, and this work helped establish the Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) Program in 2014. OAMD supports the application of state-of-the-art DNA sequencing and high-performance computing to public health priorities such as detecting and responding to outbreaks as well as prompt recognition of emerging infectious threats. Since 2014, Dr. MacCannell has guided the program’s development as OAMD’s chief science officer, the position he held before accepting the role as director after OAMD Director Greg Armstrong retired in September 2022.
Dr. MacCannell has a long track record of scientific achievement and leadership that combines microbiology, genomic sequencing, laboratory technology, and bioinformatics to advance public health. He has been recognized with an Arthur S. Flemming Award, a CSELS Honor Award, an HHS Innovates Award Secretary’s Pick, and an NCEZID Director’s Award. Dr. MacCannell has advocated strongly for broad access to the science, tools, training, and expertise that professionals need to help improve health outcomes. He has helped accomplish this by encouraging the use of sequencing and bioinformatic methods throughout the United States and the world. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, his collaborative advocacy enabled him to establish the Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology, and Surveillance (SPHERES) initiative. Dr. MacCannell serves as the consortium’s chair and co-chair of a working group in the SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group, or SIG. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and has coauthored book chapters and many scientific studies and articles.
Early in his career, Dr. MacCannell led molecular epidemiology- and laboratory-based surveillance for healthcare-associated pathogens in NCEZID’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. Previously, as a public health microbiologist and molecular epidemiologist, Dr. MacCannell worked with the PulseNet program on the development and validation of next-generation subtyping and characterization methods for Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC), as a general subject matter expert in bacterial molecular epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance, and as CDC’s laboratory surveillance lead for healthcare-associated pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile.
Dr. MacCannell holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from McGill University and a master of biomedical technology degree from the University of Calgary, where he also earned his doctor of philosophy in infectious diseases in 2006. The same year, Dr. MacCannell began a research fellowship at CDC’s PulseNet, and he has served the agency ever since.