DNDi North America Board of Directors


Darin Portnoy, Chair

Dr. Portnoy is an attending physician at Montefiore Medical Group and Family Health Center, and on Faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both in New York City. Dr. Portnoy worked for 14 years with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as a field doctor and medical coordinator in Uzbekistan, El Salvador, Georgia, Sudan, Liberia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. From 2004-2008, he was the President of MSF-USA and a member of the organization’s governing International Council. Previously, he served on the organization’s Board of Directors beginning in 2001. Presently, he serves on MSF USA’s Board of Advisors. Also, Dr. Portnoy has supported Human Rights Watch in their research on the Zambian prison system, and is President of a foundation that supports the construction of schools, bridges, and water projects in Guatemala. Dr. Portnoy teaches medical students and residents; lectures at universities, grand rounds, and conferences; and has been a course instructor for global health and humanitarian aid courses at Einstein and Cornell University. He received his MD and MPH from Tulane University.


Shing Chang, Secretary

Dr. Chang previously served as the Research and Development (R&D) Director of DNDi, from 2007 to 2012, leading DNDi‘s project portfolio and advancing the discovery and development of new treatments for neglected diseases. Prior to DNDi, Dr. Chang held various executive positions in the pharmaceutical sector. He served as Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery, and Chief Scientific Officer, at ICOS Corporation; held various management positions in drug and diagnostics research at Abbott Laboratories, including 7 years as Divisional Vice President of Infectious Disease Research in the global pharmaceutical R&D department; and was Vice President of Preclinical Development at Cetus, after joining initially as one of its first molecular biologists. Dr. Chang completed postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin, and received his PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and BS in Biology from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.


Africa Stewart

Dr. Africa Stewart graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University in 1995 with a BA in psychology and mathematical science. She then attended Drexel University Medical School in Philadelphia. In 1999 she completed an MBA with a concentration in strategic planning from the University of Pittsburghʼs Katz School of Business. She then returned to Philadelphia to finish her medical training at Drexel. In 2000, Africa received her MD and started her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Hahnemann University Hospital. Her career with MSF began in Sudan in June 2011. Africa has completed five surgical field assignments with MSF and served as a guide for the organizationʼs Forced From Home exhibition about the global refugee crisis. She was elected to the board of directors in 2017. She continues to support women’s health care locally and abroad with an emphasis on education and prevention.


Bennett Shapiro

Dr. Shapiro was formerly Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research at Merck Research laboratories. Previously at Merck, he held the position of Executive Vice President, Worldwide Basic Research. Prior to entering the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Shapiro was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He also held the position of Chief, Section on Cellular Differentiation in the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was a visiting scientist at the Institut Pasteur earlier in his career. Dr. Shapiro presently serves on the boards of several biotechnology companies and non-profit organizations. He received his MD from Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.


Bernard Pécoul

Dr. Pécoul has led DNDi since its founding in 2003. DNDi and its partners have developed and delivered six new treatments for malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease, and have built the largest and most robust R&D portfolio ever for the three neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with the highest death rates – leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and Chagas disease. Dr. Pécoul played a leading role in the formation of DNDi in his previous position as the director of the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Prior to his involvement with the Campaign, Pécoul was Executive Director of MSF France, co-founder of Epicentre (the research and epidemiology arm of MSF), and a MSF field doctor in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Dr. Pécoul received his MD from the University of Clermont Ferrand and his MPH from Tulane University


John Lawrence

Dr. John Lawrence, a native of Illinois, has previously served as president and vice president of the board. Dr. Lawrence attended Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School, then completed a family practice internship and worked as a general medical officer in Tuba City, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He then returned to residency and completed training in general surgery at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York, and pediatric surgery at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. For the past 20 years, he has been a practicing pediatric surgeon, primarily in academic settings, and he is currently a staff pediatric surgeon at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Owing in part to a longstanding interest in global health, Dr. Lawrence has completed ten surgical missions with MSF since 2009 and is currently working toward an MPH degree through the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Lawrence has served MSF as a surgeon in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia.


Kristina Torgeson

Kris Torgeson currently serves as Global CEO of Lifebox, an NGO devoted to safer surgery in low-resource countries. She served as the Secretary General of MSF from October 2008 until September 2012. She started working for MSF in 1998 and was Director of Communications for eight years at MSF USA before joining the MSF International Office. She has worked in numerous emergencies for MSF, and served most recently for MSF in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak. She served as President of the Board of the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) USA, and is co-founder of Mobilizing Action Toward Climate Change and Health (MATCCH). She is a tireless advocate for neglected populations and brings incredible energy and skill to the DNDi NA board. She earned a BA in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University, was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Peking University, and earned her Master’s degree in Chinese from Columbia University.


Meena Ahamed

Meena is a freelance journalist and has contributed articles about American foreign policy to publications, such as “Foreign Policy,” “The Asian Age” and “Seminar” among others. She was the London correspondent for NDTV from 1989-1996. During her professional career she worked at the World Bank and conducted research at Victoria Zenana Hospital. Meena is based mainly in Washington and New York and holds a post graduate degree (MA) from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Development Economics & Public Health. She is currently associated with the Boards of MSF Holland’s India Trust, Brookings Institution Council, and Turquoise Mountain Foundation USA. Meena also serves on the Advisory Board of MSF USA. Her husband, Liaquat Ahamed, is a writer who won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in history for his book “Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World.”