Shafik Dharamsi | Bio


The concept of Social Accountability is emerging as an explicit element of the mission of medical schools worldwide. The question of how to better prepare future physicians to be responsive to the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations, the broader determinants of health, and to effectively address related inequities is one of the most pressing and challenging issues facing medical educators today. Dr. Dharamsi’s research and teaching focus on how medical education can best prepare students to make judgments that are not only technically correct but also ethically and socially considerate.


Dr. Dharamsi is the UBC Faculty of Medicine CanMEDS Health Advocate Role Train-the-Trainer; and Faculty Mentor for the DPAS Community and International Service Learning Options. From 2004-2007 he served as Course Director of DPAS 410/420 (Doctor, Patient & Society) – an interdisciplinary course for first and second year medical and dental students that examines critical issues in health care dealing with the social determinants of health, ethics, social accountability, global health, and population & public health. He spent a significant part of his early career at UBC researching and developing service learning and community based medical/dental education as a potentially viable pedagogy to support social responsibility, professionalism, and for preparing the next generation of doctors to respond to disparities in healthcare.


  • 2012: PWIAS Visiting Scholar Abroad Award – Dr. Dharamsi received the prestigious Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
  • Co-Lead Faculty of SACE (Social Accountability and Community Engagement) SACE is a community engagement initiative of the UBC Faculty of Medicine working to promote socially and community responsive learning activities
  • Established service-learning as a potentially viable pedagogy in medical and dental education at UBC; and introduced the concept and practice of reflective journaling as an integral component of the Doctor, Patient & Society (DPAS) Course in Medicine and Dentistry.
  • Pioneered the research & development of a longitudinal service-learning and community engagement initiative entitled, Professionalism and Community Service (PACS): UBC Faculty of Dentistry.
  • Nominated for Killam Teaching Prize, The University of British Columbia, 2007-2008.
  • UBC Department of Family Practice designated CanMEDS Trainer in Health Advocacy following participation at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada CanMEDS Train-the-Trainer Health Advocate Workshop.
  • 2008 Early Career Scholar Award: UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • 2009 Sustainability Education Intensive Scholar: UBC Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth.
  • 2009 Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute Scholar

Global Health

Dr. Dharamsi served as Associate Director (2005-2010) of the UBC Centre for International Health, College of Health Disciplines. The mandate of CIH is to facilitate leadership, research, education and community engagement, and to build capacity for exploring, developing and implementing creative, progressive, rigorous and sustainable solutions to the problems of global health, particularly within the context of the social determinants of health.

Recent global health related activities:

  1. PWIAS Visiting Scholar Abroad Award – Dr. Dharamsi, received the prestigious Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (PWIAS) Visiting Scholar Abroad Award to develop a global perspective and long-term international research agenda on social accountability in medicine and the development of socially responsive physicians. The PWIAS Visiting Scholar is expected to undertake “outstanding and transformative research which will have an impact in terms of addressing an important science or humanities issue in the host country.” Dr. Dharamsi will work with medical faculty in Nepal from the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS). He will collaborate with Dr. Arjun Karki from PAHS, and Dr. Bob Woollard from UBC who is an international expert in the area of social accountability of medical schools.
    Like many countries, and particularly less developed ones, Nepal suffers from gross inequities in health status and healthcare services. In the Kathmandu Valley, the physician-to-population ratio is 1:850, jumping to 1:30,000 in rural areas and 1:150,000 in more remote districts. The World Health Organization describes health human resource maldistribution as a “global crisis”. There is a significant gap between urban and rural areas in educational attainment, health care facilities, transportation, communication, and socio-economic status. Yet, Nepal is also witnessing an explosion of new medical schools. But most of them are private, for-profit schools with high tuition fees. They pay little attention to health inequities and the plight of socioeconomically marginalized patients who bear the greatest burden of disease. In response, PAHS has developed a not-for-profit medical school in affiliation with the Patan Hospital; and it has taken an innovative approach to medical education based on the principles of social accountability. The PAHS medical curriculum is focused on the health of socioeconomically vulnerable citizens in rural areas who have little or no access to care, and the values of service and altruism (also identified by medical accrediting bodies in North America as core values of the physician in their role as health advocates). Dr. Dharamsi’s work will enable the development of a much needed research program at PAHS to investigate the impact of the PAHS curriculum on developing socially responsive physicians in Nepal.
  2. Dr. Dharamsi delivered a keynote address at the 2012 Canadian High Schools Model United Nations Conference (CAHSMUN), the largest high school conference of its kind in Western Canada. The conference was founded in 2005 as a grassroots project aimed at introducing Model UN to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in this worthwhile experience. Speaking to the Human Rights Council and to the African Union, Dr. Dharamsi’s presentation challenged student delegates to examine the purpose of education in society today and motivations for seeking higher education. See:
  3. As visiting lecturer in Mangalore, India, Dr. Dharamsi presented on global medical ethics as the Chief Guest of the South Indian Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics. He also gave lectures at KS Hegde Medical College and at the ST. Aloysius Institute of Management and Information Technology, both in Mangalore India.
  4. Dr. Dharamsi also implemented an innovative health promotion and early-childhood development initiative in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda through the Aga Khan Development Network. His work has been featured on a Canadian television documentary series, The Global Villagers, which follows Canadians who work to promote peace and meet the basic needs of developing countries.


  • Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies: The University of British Columbia
  • M.Sc. The University of British Columbia
  • B.Sc. The Medical College of Georgia
  • B.Ed. York University


  • Social Responsibility/Accountability/Ethics
  • Health Professions Education
  • Qualitative Research
  • Global Health

UBC Faculty Affiliations

  • Centre for International Health
  • Human Early Learning Partnerships
  • College of Health Disciplines

Research Areas

  • Social Responsibility/Accountability
  • Role of Physician as Health Advocate
  • Community Service Learning
  • Ethics/Professionalism
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Global Health & Social Development

Current Research

  • Developing ethical approaches to international service learning (TLEF Funded)
  • Health Advocacy in Medical Education: Preparing Physicians to be Community and Socially Responsive (RCPSC Funded)
  • Educating the next generation of health professionals for social responsibility and global citizenship (TLEF Funded)
  • Social responsibility in the health professions: Critical explorations (SSHRC Funded)
  • Experiences of Canadian maternity care providers (CIHR Funded)
  • A partnership between the UBC Internal Medicine Residency Training Program & The Donald Fraser Hospital, Limpopo Province, South Africa (Cedar Foundation Funded)
  • Developing an Agenda for Reducing Oral Healthcare Disparities in BC (CIHR Funded)
  • Kuwasha (Kiswahili word meaning ‘to ignite’): International Service Learning Initiative


You can find Dr. Dharamsi publications here