Joanne Liu

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Joanne Liu

Joanne Liu at Chatham House 2015.jpg
Liu at Chatham House in 2015
Alma materMcGill University
New York University
Université de Montréal
Known forInternational president of Médecins Sans Frontières
AwardsNational Order of Quebec
Time 100
Scientific career
Emergency medicine
InstitutionsMédecins Sans Frontières
Université de Montréal
McGill University
Joanne Liu
Traditional Chinese廖滿嫦

Joanne Liu, M.D., O.Q., M.S.C, is a Canadian pediatric emergency medicine physician, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal, Professor of Clinical Medicine at McGill University, and the previous International President of Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders).[1] She was elected president during MSF's International General Assembly in June 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Joanne Liu was born on 4 November 1965, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, to a Chinese immigrant Liu family from Toishan, Guangdong. Her family ran a Chinese restaurant called China Garden. Dr Joanne Liu was the fifth child after David, a child stillborn, Anthony, and Margaret. When she was thirteen, she became fascinated by Et la Paix dans le monde docteur, a book about the experiences of a physician working with Doctors Without Borders during the Soviet–Afghan War. She dreamed of becoming "a doctor without borders" one day.[3]

Education and training[edit]

During junior college, Cegep Champlain St. Lawrence, Quebec City, she travelled to Mali with Canadian Crossroads International.[2] Liu graduated from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine with the M.D., C.M. degree and completed pediatric specialty training at the Université de Montréal-affiliated Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine. She then completed a sub-specialty in pediatric emergency care at Bellevue Hospital Center of the New York University School of Medicine and an International Master's in Health Leadership degree at the McGill University Desautels Faculty of Management.


Liu started her career with Médecins sans Frontières, in 1996 when she worked with Malian refugees in Mauritania. Since then she has provided support through the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; assisted in controlling a cholera epidemic in Haiti; helped Somali refugees in Kenya; and offered medical assistance in many conflict zones, including Palestine, Central African Republic and Sudan's Darfur region. She has also helped to develop one of the first programs to offer comprehensive medical care for survivors of sexual violence in the Republic of the Congo.[4]

From 1999 to 2002, Liu was a programs manager at the Paris office of MSF. She then went on to work as the president of the board of directors of MSF in Canada between 2004 and 2009. She has helped to create and currently co-manages the organization's telemedicine project, which connects MSF physicians in 150 remote sites with a platform of over 300 medical specialists across the globe. By communicating through the specialist network, MSF field doctors can receive critical diagnoses and treatment recommendations for their patients within hours.[5]

From 2002 to 2013, Liu served as a full-time Pediatric Emergency Physician at Ste-Justine Hospital in Montreal and at the Health Travel Clinic of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. She is also an associate professor at the Université de Montréal.[6]

From 2013 to 2019, Liu served as International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in Geneva.[7]

On 2 September 2014, Liu gave a briefing to the United Nations General Assembly, urging member states to mobilize against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.[8]

On 7 October 2015, Liu demanded an independent investigation of the American bombing of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.[9] She denounced the bombing and suggested that it was a war crime.[10]

From 2020 until 2021, Liu served as a member of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), an independent group examining how the World Health Organization (WHO) and countries handled the COVID-19 pandemic, co-chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.[11]

Other activities[edit]


  1. ^ "Dr Christos Christou, new International President of MSF, 9 September 2019". Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Dr. Joanne Liu Elected President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International", McGill University: 10 July 2013
  3. ^ Biography,
  4. ^ Dr Joanne LIU new International President of MSF, 10 October 2013
  5. ^ "Learning from Pandemics Past and Present: A Conversation with Dr. Joanne Liu". Channels. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Joanne Liu: doctor without borders Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine", Université de Montréal: 4 September 2013
  7. ^ "International President". MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES - DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS. Retrieved 7 April 2023. Past international presidents of MSF ° 2013-2019 Joanne Liu
  8. ^ MSF International President United Nations Special Briefing on Ebola, 2 September 2014
  9. ^ "Obama Issues Rare Apology Over Bombing of Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan", The New York Times: 7 October 2015
  10. ^ Lui presumes bombing a war crime, Washington Post, 7 October 2015
  11. ^ Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland (3 September 2020), Pandemic review panel named, includes Miliband, ex Mexican president Reuters.
  12. ^ The New Humanitarian welcomes Dr. Joanne Liu to the board of directors The New Humanitarian, press release of 30 November 2020.
  13. ^ Board Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  14. ^ CEPI announces new permanent board Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), press release of 24 January 2018.
  15. ^ Board of Directors: Joanne Liu Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI).
  16. ^ International Advisory Board: Joanne Liu McGill School of Population and Global Health (SPGH).