John Hepburn appointed CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs


Vancouver, BC — The Mitacs Board of Directors announced today the appointment of John Hepburn, PhD, as its new Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director. Currently the Vice-President of Research and Partnerships at CIFAR (formerly the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research), Hepburn will assume his new role on February 18, 2020.

With an extensive academic and research experience, background with industry and international partners, and deep knowledge of and commitment to the innovation ecosystem, Hepburn will bring extraordinary vision to Mitacs.

For almost two decades, Hepburn advanced the capacity of UBC’s research portfolio, creating new institutional partnerships in China, India, and around the world. His previous positions at UBC include Vice-President, Research and International, Dean of the Faculty of Science, and Head of the Department of Chemistry.

After more than ten years overseeing research at UBC, John took the role of Vice President, Research and Partnerships at CIFAR in 2016. There he stewarded a major renewal of research programs through an international call-for-proposals and extensive review of existing programs.

With a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Toronto and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Waterloo, Hepburn is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a former Canada Council Killam Research Fellow.

Hepburn succeeds Alejandro Adem, PhD, who served as Mitacs’s CEO and Scientific Director for almost five years. Adem is now the president of NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.



Diane Gray; Chair, Board of Directors, Mitacs; and Founding President and CEO, CentrePort Canada

“Dr. Hepburn was selected after a cross-country search resulting in many exceptional applicants. I’m delighted to welcome him as the new CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs. A highly respected researcher and accomplished university leader, John’s expertise and vision will help Mitacs continue to advance innovation in Canada.”


John Hepburn, PhD, incoming CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

“I am honoured and grateful to the Board for the opportunity to lead Mitacs, a truly exceptional organization. Having partnered with the organization for many years to advance research, Mitacs is an essential element in powering commercialization, talent attraction, job creation, and economic growth for Canada. I look forward to building on these successes with Mitacs’s exceptional team.”


Quick facts:

  • Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization, fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from the best academic institutions at home and around the world.
  • Working with more than 100 post-secondary institutions, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. Open to all disciplines and all industry sectors, projects span a wide range of areas, including manufacturing, business processes, IT, social sciences, design, and more.
  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada and every province, as well as academic, industry, and international partners.