Significant Progress at The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at Canada’s York University

The past six months has been a busy period for The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. A world-renowned team is being assembled to support the Institutes’ core objectives to provide leadership and innovation in improving global health.

Spearheading the Institute is Dr. James Orbinski, OC, OOnt, MSc who has been named inaugural Director. Dr. Orbinski is a physician, humanitarian activist, author and leading scholar in Global Health, and was the 2016-17 Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Dr Orbinski has been a champion of global health and humanitarianism throughout his career. He is an internationally renowned professor, medical doctor, researcher, author, and passionate advocate. He is the former international president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders during which he helped launch its Access to Essential Medicines Campaign. He has advised the UN Security Council, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross for his humanitarian leadership in Rwandaduring the 1994 genocide, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Orbinski was previously the CIGI Chair in Global Health Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University, Chair of Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and full Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Last Autumn, Dr Orbinski was awarded the Loyola Medal by Concordia University recognising his lifetime of accomplishment and commitment to bettering the lives of those around him. The Loyal Medal was created in 1961 by the Loyola Alumni Association as a tribute to outstanding leadership and achievements by Canadians. Orbinski is the 21st person to receive the award since the first medal was bestowed in 1963.

Dr Orbinski was also a plenary speaker at the Canadian Society for International Health’s Conference under the theme, ‘Leaving no one behind? Reflections for action in a changing world.’

In addition, Steven J. Hoffman, has been appointed as a Professor at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, and is cross-appointed to Osgoode Hall Law School.  Professor Hoffman is the Director of the Global Strategy Lab and holds courtesy appointments in Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University and in Global Health & Population at Harvard University.  He is an international lawyer licensed in both Ontario and New York who specializes in global health law, global governance and institutional design.

Professor Hoffman is one of Canada’s most influential scholars in global health governance, law and policy, having served as an advisor to several national governments, the UN and the WHO. In 2016, he was appointed the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR’s) Institute of Population and Public Health. With his appointment, York University will serve as the new administrative host of CIHR’s Institute of Population and Public Health.

Aria Ilyad Ahmad has been appointed to the position of Policy Advisor at the Dahdaleh Institute.  Aria recently co-authored a major paper for the World Health Organization entitled:  A study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard and falsified medical products, and is a PhD Candidate in Global Governance.

Byomkesh Talukder has been appointed as Planetary Health Research Fellow.  Byomkesh’s work will focus on modelling complex adaptive systems to assess the impact of climate change on health.  His specific focus is in infectious disease, nutrition and water, flood and drought management.  Byomkesh holds a PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies with a focus on Complexity Science Modelling, and a specialization in Sustainability Assessment.

Imran Syed Ali has been appointed as Global Health and Humanitarianism Research Fellow.  Imran’s work involves the application of water engineering, infomatics, artificial intelligence, physiology and biosensors to assess and treat contaminated water, particularly applicable in refugee settings and in indigenous communities, and holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering.

James Chriombo has been appointed as Community Scholar, Planetary Health.  Based in Malawi, James will work in collaboration with Dignitas International to model the health impacts of climate change.

Tanya Fook has been appointed as Community Fellow, Integrative Health and Wellness.  Based at the Dahdaleh Institute, Tanya is developing the Canadian national research agenda on integrated health and wellness, inclusive of aboriginal and inuit populations.

Rhonda Ferguson has been appointed as Global Health Law Fellow. Rhonda holds a PhD in international human rights law, and will be establishing a research agenda on global health and food security-related issues, trade rules, and social determinants of health.

Tino Kreutzer, PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar, is working with Dr. Orbinski to define new methodologies for Rapid Health Assessment in Humanitarian Emergencies that combines use of digital and internet platforms, Big Data tools and analytics, and traditional field-based ground assessments.

Dahdaleh Institute scholars are involved with a number of Symposia in 2018, including Planetary Health and Ecology, York-Ghana Health Education, Data Science and Health, and Priorities in Global Health and Humanitarianism.  Additionally, York University is hosting a national consultation with Canadian Academic Centres on Global Health Research Priorities in April 2018, at which the Dahdaleh Institute is a presenter and organizer.

The Dahdaleh Institute is currently under construction, with an occupancy expected in the summer of 2018, with staff being hired to build capacity in administrative and communications spheres.

The work of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research has been made possible by a transformational donation of C$20 million by Victor Phillip Dahdaleh, a UK-based Canadian business leader and York alumnus, for the expansion of the university’s global health initiatives.  The donation is the largest by an alumnus in the university’s 59-year history.

The noted philanthropist graduated almost four decades ago and recognizes the University’s commitment to addressing international health challenges.

About The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health 

Six months in, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research is developing a five-year plan to build on the Team’s expertise based on five pillars:

  • Planetary Health
  • Global Health and Humanitarianism
  • Integrative Health and Wellness
  • Big Science, Health and Human Systems
  • Global Health Foresighting

The Dahdaleh Institute’s transdisciplinary work invokes partners in Law, Engineering, Environmental Science, Education, Health and more towards developing revolutionary solutions that address global health challenges.

For further information on the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation contact: Matthew Moth on +44(0)207-593-4023 or email:

For further information on the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research contact: +1-416-736-2100 x 20175 or email:



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