Dr. Vanessa Allen

Microbiology and Laboratory Science, Public Health Ontario Laboratory

Photo of Dr. Vanessa Allen

"PHO enables an incredible breadth of scientific inquiry and collaboration with colleagues, motivated by challenges faced by our public health partners. The ability to investigate the microbiological, clinical and public health dimensions of sexually transmitted infections and foodborne outbreaks and to develop knowledge and tools to enhance our provincial capacity establishes a firm foundation for our role as an internationally recognized institution of public health research."

Areas of Expertise

  • sexually transmitted infections
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • molecular epidemiology
  • food- and water-borne infections
  • Clostridium difficile


Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Clinical Consultant, Departments of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Cross Appointment, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

Academic Degrees and Accreditations

  • Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (MDCM), McGill University
  • Master of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University 
  • Fellowship in Medical Microbiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto
  • Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, University Health Network, University of Toronto
  • Residency in Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto

PHO Research Interests

  • sexually transmitted infections, particularly Neisseria gonorrhoeae, syphilis, and Chlamydia trachomatis
  • molecular epidemiology and outbreak response for foodborne infections and Clostridium difficile.
  • infectious diseases during pregnancy

PHO Research Activities

  • Sexually transmitted infections.
  • Examining the development of antibiotic resistance in N. gonorrhoeae in the pharyngeal tract using whole genome sequencing.
  • Applying molecular epidemiological tools to understand the patterns of development of multi-drug resistance in N. gonorrhoeae in Ontario.
  • Exploring the prevalence and disease spectrum of Mycoplasma genitalium.
  • Collaborating on the role on increased screening of syphilis to reduce the current epidemic.
  • Enhanced detection and molecular epidemiology and foodborne and enteric infections including C. difficile.
  • Developing and evaluating the role of new methodologies of molecular epidemiology of Salmonella Enteritidis.
  • Comparison of MLVA, SNP typing, optical mapping, and whole genome sequencing.
  • Assessment of the impact of community transmission of C. difficile in Ontario.

Selected Publications

  1. Gesink D, Racey CS, Seah C, Zittermann S, Mitterni L, Juzkiw J, Jamieson H, Greer J, Singh S, Jensen JS, Allen V. Mycoplasma genitalium in Toronto, Ont: estimates of prevalence and macrolide resistance. Can Fam Physician. 2016;62(2):e96-101.
  2. Baker KS, Dallman TJ, Ashton PM, Day M, Hughes G, Crook PD, Gilbart VL, Zittermann S, Allen VG, Howden BP, Tomita T, Valcanis M, Harris SR, Connor TR, Sintchenko V, Howard P, Brown JD, Petty NK, Gouali M, Thanh DP, Keddy KH, Smith AM, Talukder KA, Faruque SM, Parkhill J, Baker S, Weill FX, Jenkins C, Thomson NR. Intercontinental dissemination of azithromycin-resistant shigellosis through sexual transmission: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2015;15(8):913-21. 
  3. Allen VG, Seah C, Martin I, Melano RG. Azithromycin resistance is coevolving with reduced susceptibility to cephalosporins in Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Ontario, Canada. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014;58(5):2528-34. 
  4. Allen VG, Mitterni L, Seah C, Rebbapragada A, Martin IE, Lee C, et al. Neisseria gonorrhoeae treatment failure and susceptibility to cefixime in Toronto, Canada. JAMA. 2013;309(2):163-70. 
  5. Alexander DC, Hao W, Gilmour MW, Zittermann S, Sarabia A, Melano RG, Peralta A, Lombos M, Warren K, Amatnieks Y, Virey E, Ma JH, Jamieson FB, Low DE, Allen VG. Escherichia coli O104:H4 infections and international travel. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012;18(3):473-6. 

View more publications by Dr. Vanessa Allen on PubMed.gov

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Updated 28 July 2020