Bioethics Expert Kristina Orfali Honored with Légion d'Honneur

June 20, 2024

The Légion d'honneur, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is France's highest distinction, awarded to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding merit in military or civil life. Columbia Professor Kristina Orfali was named Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in a ceremony held at Reid Hall on June 17. The medal was conferred to her by Philippe Étienne, former ambassador of France to the United States. This accolade recognizes her significant contributions to the field of bioethics, her humanitarian efforts, and her impactful work in clinical ethics, pediatrics, and social sciences.

Étienne was in France presiding over the D-Day commemorations in Normandy and Provence alongside Sorbonne Professor Demis Peschanski, also in attendance. Also present were Håkan Åkesson, the Swedish ambassador to France; François Bourguignon, former chief economist of the World Bank; Renaud Dutreil, former minister of commerce of France; and Pierre-André Chiappori, the minister of finance and economy of Monaco and E. Rowan and Barbara Steinschneider Professor of Economics at Columbia University.



Kristina Orfali is a professor of bioethics in pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a member of the Clinical Ethics Committee at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. She also served on the Columbia Global Paris Center’s faculty advisory committee for several years. 

Trained in France, she holds a Ph.D. in social sciences from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Previously, she was an assistant professor in medicine and associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago.

Her research focuses are cross-cultural perspectives on patient experiences, clinician and family decision-making, and neonatal ethics. She has published extensively, with recent work exploring ethical dilemmas, subjective risk assessment, and international variations in neonatal prognosis. Orfali co-directs the Clinical Pediatrics Ethics course at Columbia and serves on multiple advisory boards, including the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry and the International Academic Network on Bioethics.