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James Orbinski, is a Canadian physician, humanitarian activist, author and leading scholar in global health. Orbinski was the 2016-17 Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine, and as of September 1, 2017, he is professor and inaugural director of the Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was previously the CIGI Chair in Global Health Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University (2012-2017), Chair of Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (2010-2012) and full professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto (2003-2012), where he was the founding Saul Rae Fellow at Massey College. Orbinski’s current research interests focus on the health impacts of climate change, medical humanitarianism, intervention strategies around emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and global health governance.
After extensive fieldwork with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), in 1998 Orbinski was elected President of the International Council. He was MSF International Council president at the time the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. Orbinski is also co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of Dignitas International, a medical humanitarian organization researching and working with communities in the global south to increase access to life-saving treatment and prevention in areas overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS, and with Aboriginal communities in Canada to improve community based care for diseases such as diabetes. He is a strong advocate for increasing access to essential medicines for neglected diseases, particularly across vulnerable populations.
In 1998, Orbinski received the Governor General's Meritorious Service Cross for his work as the MSF Head of Mission during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In 2009, Orbinski became an Officer of the Order of Canada and in the citation was recognized by the Governor General of Canada as a humanitarian practitioner and advocate for those who have been silenced by war, genocide and mass starvation.