Dr. James Orbinski is professor and inaugural Director of York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR). As a medical doctor, a humanitarian practitioner and advocate, a best-selling author, and a leading scholar in global health, Dr. Orbinski believes in actively engaging and shaping our world so that it is more just, fair and humane.
A champion of health and humanitarianism throughout his career, Dr. Orbinski has extensive leadership, advocacy, and research experience in global health. He has worked providing medical humanitarian relief in situations of war, famine, epidemic disease and genocide with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF). He was elected International President of MSF from 1998-2001, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to MSF in 1999, and co-chaired the founding of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative in 2004, which has since launched 6 new drug treatments for tropical diseases, and has 17 others in its’ research and development pipeline. He also co-founded Dignitas International, which researches health systems, training and clincal care, and now supports more than 370,000 people with full treatment for HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Dignitas also works with First Nations communities in Northern Ontario on community based interventions for diabetes.
Dr. Orbinski is a board Member of Grand Challenges Canada, and has been a member of several bodies committed to improving health equity both in Canada and around the world. These include the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, and the Climate Change and Health Council. He is an invited member of the Davos World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Health Care Systems and Cooperation. He was an invited member to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences 2011 Expert Panel on Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health. He is the author of an award-winning and best-selling book, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarianism in the 21st Century. In 2016-2017, as a Fulbright visiting professor to the University of California-Irvine, he worked in California and Malawi on modelling the health impacts of climate change.
As the inaugural director of the DIGHR, Dr. Orbinski aims to make the Institute a leader and catalyst in addressing global health issues, reflecting York University’s commitment to equity and trans-disciplinary research. The DIGHR focuses on 1) Planetary Health, 2) Global Health and Humanitarianism, and 3) Global Health Fore-sighting.
Dr. Orbinski holds a BSc from Trent University, an MD degree from McMaster University, and an MA in international relations from the University of Toronto. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received the Meritorious Service Cross for his leadership in providing direct medical relief in Kigali during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He is a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Dr. Orbinski is an avid canoeist, and lives in Guelph Ontario with his wife and their three children aged 15, 13 and 10. For a more detailed biography, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Orbinski .