Recognized by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Dr. Raj Panjabi is a physician, professor, epidemiologist, entrepreneur and public servant. Dr. Panjabi currently serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the White House National Security Council.
Previously, Dr. Panjabi was appointed by President Biden as the 3rd U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator to head the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and co-implemented with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. As the President’s Malaria Coordinator, he managed an annual budget of $770 million and over 200 USAID and CDC staff to protect hundreds of millions of people at risk of malaria across nearly 30 countries representing 80% of the global malaria burden in Asia and Africa. Panjabi was the first Asian American and first person born in Africa, where malaria is endemic, to serve in the role. During Panjabi’s tenure, PMI launched a $6 billion strategy aimed at ending malaria within a generation by helping save four million lives, prevent one billion cases and introducing initiatives to help rollout the world’s first malaria vaccine, strengthen community health workforces, and expand partnerships with local institutions. He also served on the executive leadership team at the USAID Bureau of Global Health and on the U.S. constituency to the Board of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which helped lead the global response to COVID-19.
Prior to serving in the Biden-Harris Administration, Panjabi served as CEO of Last Mile Health, an award-winning non-profit organization he co-founded in 2007 to save lives in the world's most remote communities. At Last Mile Health, Panjabi led the development of community health systems and responses to epidemics of Ebola, COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases across Africa. He served as Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he is on leave of absence, caring for patients at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in Massachusetts. Panjabi served as Advisor to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her role as Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which published a comprehensive review of the World Health Organization-coordinated global COVID-19 response and policy recommendations to prevent the next pandemic.
Panjabi has served on several boards and advisory groups. He has served as a Gavi Champion, advisor to the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank Group, an external reviewer for WHO’s guidelines on community health worker programs, and advisor to the WHO Ambassador for the Health Workforce. He chaired the Community Health Exemplars in Global Health study with the Office of Bill Gates and Gates Foundation. Panjabi serves in his personal capacity on boards of the Skoll Foundation, Echoing Green, and the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Foundation. He previously served on the boards of Doctors for America, Roll Back Malaria Partnership and Last Mile Health, where he is on leave of absence.
Panjabi was named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, with a tribute from President Bill Clinton, and one of the 50 Most Influential People in Healthcare. He has twice been named to the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune. He is a recipient of the 2017 TED Prize, Clinton Global Citizen Award for leadership in response to the West Africa Ebola epidemic, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and was named a Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Economic Forum. In 2017, President Sirleaf and the Government of Liberia recognized Raj with Distinction of Knight Commander of the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers, one of the country's highest civilian honors.
Panjabi has authored or co-authored over 80 publications in the scientific and popular press. He received a medical degree from the University of North Carolina, trained in internal medicine and as a clinical fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, received a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University as a Sommer Scholar, and served as visiting faculty at Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Social Innovation and Change Initiative.
Panjabi's grandparents were religious minorities in Sindh province (present day Pakistan) and due to the British Partition of India in 1947, fled to Mumbai and Indore in India. A generation later, Panjabi's parents migrated from India to West Africa, where Panjabi was born and raised in Monrovia, Liberia. After civil war broke out in Liberia in 1989, Panjabi's family became refugees again. At age nine, he fled with his family on a rescue cargo plane to Freetown, Sierra Leone and eventually resettled in High Point, North Carolina in the United States of America. Panjabi now lives in the Washington, DC area.