Dr. Joanne Liu is a Canadian pediatrician born in Quebec, Canada. Like many women, she was inspired in her youth to strive for great things. At the age of thirteen, Joanne read a book about Doctors Without Borders and began dreaming of one day joining their ranks. She spent her academic career working toward that dream. Taking her education very seriously, she excelled in high school and went on to obtain several degrees on the road to becoming a doctor.
After graduating from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Liu trained in pediatric medicine at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine. She later trained in pediatric emergency care at Bellevue Hospital Center of the New York University School of Medicine. Working toward her dream to join Doctors Without Borders, she worked with Malian refugees in Mauritania.
Dr. Liu also provided medical support after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and developed the first of its kind program offering medical aid for victims of sexual violence in the Republic of Congo. She was also instrumental in creating the MSF program that connects doctors at over 150 remote sites with hundreds of medical specialists around the world. This development helps doctors in remote areas obtain vital diagnoses and treatment advice as expediently as possible. Dr. Liu also served as full-time Pediatric Emergency Physician at Ste-Justine Hospital in Montreal, as Associate Professor at the Université de Montréal, and as International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders) in Geneva.
Currently in her second term as the International President of MSF, she was instrumental in the fight against the world’s first Ebola epidemic. She is renowned for positioning MSF to take global action immediately when and where it’s most needed. “I’m completely allergic to being politically correct,” she says. Setting politics aside, she focuses on treating epidemics around the world with professionalism and expediency.
In October 2016, MSF doctors and administrators were horrified by an unprovoked, unexpected attack on one of their facilities in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan where an accidental American air strike killed 42 patients and staff in an MSF hospital. Although former US President Barak Obama personally called Liu to apologize for the mistaken attack, she pledged to take immediate steps to guard against any such future attacks. Dr. Liu traveled to New York City and called on the UN Security Council for a renewed commitment to the safety of medical facilities in war zones.
Dr. Liu is a commanding presence and an unstoppable leader. Her commitment to excellence in the medical arena is unmatched. He dedication to providing medical care in underdeveloped areas of the world is admirable. Her actions in the face of an unexpected attack on one of the facilities over which has charge is courageous.
Dr. Liu is a skilled medical practitioner taking her talents and leadership to new heights. Her professional choices have made her a respected physician and a role model to colleagues and students, alike. She is a force to be reckoned with creating change and opportunity at every turn. Dr. Liu is a woman to be admired and emulated.