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James Orbinski, OC, MSC, BSC, MD, MA, MCFP

James Orbinski, OC, MSC, BSC, MD, MA, MCFP

James Orbinski, OC, MSC, BSC, MD, MA, MCFP



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James Orbinski

Dr. James Orbinski is a professor and the inaugural Director of York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. 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 six new drug treatments for tropical diseases, and has 17 others in its research and development pipeline. He also co-founded Dignitas International, which researched health systems and clinical care, trained more than 12,000 Health Workers, and supported more than 370,000 people with full treatment for HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Dignitas also worked 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 the 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 on modelling the health impacts of climate change.

As the inaugural Director of the Dahdaleh Institute, 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 Dahdaleh Institute focuses on 1) Global Health and Humanitarianism 2) Planetary Health and 3) Global Health Foresighting.

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. An avid canoeist, Dr. Orbinski lives in Guelph, Ontario, with his wife and their three children.


Global Health & Humanitarianism, Global Health Foresighting, Planetary Health


Climate Change, Critical Problem-Solving, Data Science, Decolonization, Design, Film, Governance, Infectious Disease, Migration, Water





Related Work


Opportunity - Research Assistant, Afghan Refugee Health-Related Canadian Resettlement Scoping | 9 September 2021

2021 Seed Grant Recipients Announced: Dahdaleh Institute Seed Grants for Critical Social Science Perspectives in Global Health Research Awarded to Five York Researchers | 17 June 2021

Dahdaleh Institute Global Health Seminar with Dr. Courtney Howard - "Summers of Smoke: living well through the wildfires of the climate emergency" | 17 June 2021

Publication - Health impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers | 12 May 2021

Summer of Smoke -New Study shows that a Two and a Half Month Smoke Exposure in Canada’s Subarctic Doubled Emergency Room Visits for Asthma. | 5 February 2021

Collaboration with University of the Witwatersrand to tackle COVID-19 in Africa and future disease outbreaks | 26 January 2021

Podcast on Environmental Emergencies: Climate Crises and Humanitarian Response | 18 January 2021

Opportunity: Technical Advisor - SWOT and Humanitarian Water Engineering | 15 December 2020

New Research Grant: Safe Water Optimization Tool awarded WASH Evidence Challenge Grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund/Elrha | 10 December 2020

Virtual Launch of Safe Water Optimization Tool | 7 December 2020

Safe Water Optimization Tool featured in two national magazines | 16 November 2020

The WHO, Canada and the Way Ahead with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Edit | 15 November 2020

James Orbinski at the Geneva Health Forum | 15 November 2020

Innovative new data analytics technology to help improve access to safe water in refugee camps | 5 November 2020

Bruce Mau: Design principles for critical problem-solving in global health | 20 October 2020

Project Launch: Digital technologies and local food security in the context of COVID-19 | 23 September 2020

Director James Orbinski Co-Chairs Global Public Health at The Recovery Summit | 16 September 2020

James Orbinski Speaks at The Massey Dialogues — On Global Health | 8 June 2020

Media Release: Inuit community shares innovative COVID-19 tool to support communities globally | 2 June 2020

Director James Orbinski Panelist on the Future of Drug Development in Emerging Economies | 7 May 2020

Director James Orbinski Comments on COVID-19 on CTV | 12 March 2020

YorkU Magazine Features $2mil Grant for GGRID Project | 19 February 2020

Dahdaleh Institute Hosts Critical Perspectives in Global Health Workshop | 17 December 2019

Director & Research Fellow at the Planetary Health Annual Meeting | 7 September 2019

Promoting Refugee Health: What can we do better? | 29 August 2019

Director & Research Fellow at System Dynamics Society Conference | 26 July 2019

Dahdaleh Institute Attending Planetary Health Annual Meeting | 23 July 2019

SciDev Article Features James Orbinksi & Carol Devine | 2 July 2019

James Orbinski & Carol Devine at McGill Summer Institute | 12 June 2019

James Orbinski & Jennifer Turnbull Write for Oxford Handbook of Humanitarian Medicine | 10 June 2019

New Podcast Features Archived Interview with James Orbinski | 30 May 2019

James Orbinski, Matthew Arnold & Carol Devine at MSF Sci Days | 28 May 2019

James Orbinski & Joseph Pallant at Blockchain Revolution Global Conference | 16 May 2019

James Orbinski on Freedom from Want on the CBC | 16 April 2019

Health Impacts of Climate Change Strikes a Chord | 12 December 2018

Launch of the 2018 Canada-specific Lancet Countdown Report | 29 October 2018

Director James Orbinski to speak at Ideas at Stratford | 25 June 2018

James Orbinski Publishes in Canadian Journal of Public Health | 29 May 2018

Significant Progress at The Dahdaleh Institute | 17 May 2018

Director James Orbinski to speak at "Water for Peace" | 15 May 2018

Shaping the Global Health We Want: Debating Future Research Needs | 19 April 2018

Development of a Ghana-Canada Global Health Research Partnership | 29 March 2018

York University appoints internationally renowned global health scholars | 1 June 2017

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