Kristina Orfali, PhD

  • Professor of Bioethics (in Pediatrics) at the Columbia University Medical Center


Kristina Orfali is a Professor of Bioethics in Pediatrics at Columbia Medical Center, as well as a clinical ethicist and a member of the NY Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Clinical Ethics Committee.Trained in France at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, she holds a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Before joining CUMC she has been an Assistant Professor in Medicine and Associate Director at the MacLean Center for Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago and a Research Scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) at Columbia.

Kristina Orfali’s research and publications span a variety of ethical issues. She has published work in a cross-cultural perspective on patient's hospital experiences, on clinician and family decision-making and on neonatal ethics. Her more recent work focuses on ethical dilemmas, subjective risk assessment and international variations in neonatal prognosis with a particular emphasis on the links between decision theory and empirical results. Another line of research, pursued with colleagues form behavioral sciences, relates to the negative psychological consequences of choice in life and death contexts; the paper “Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses to Medical Decisions”, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, received this journal’s 2012 Her most recent work is at the intersection of law, medicine and bioethics. Kristina Orfali has published articles in Social Science & Medicine, Sociology of Health & Illness, Journal of Clinical Ethics, American Journal of Bioethics and others, and has co-edited several books. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Columbia Maison Française, of the International Academic Network on Bioethics (IANB), and of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Master Program Law, Economics and Bioethics at University of La Sapienza in Rome, Italy. She is the co-director of the course on Clinical Pediatrics Ethics for medical students.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Bioethics (in Pediatrics) at the Columbia University Medical Center


  • French
  • Swedish


  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Committees, Societies, Councils

Member of the Pediatric Ethics Committee of NewYork-Presbyterian MorganStanley Children’s Hospital & Clinical Ethics Consultant

Elected Member of the Advisory Board of the Maison Francaise, Columbia University

Member, Scientific Advisory Board of the Master Program Law, Economics and Bioethics at University of La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

International Advisory Board, International University of Monaco

Member, Board of the International Academic Network of Bioethics (IAB)


Research Interests

  • Cross-cultural Bioethics
  • Medical decision making under uncertainty
  • Neonatal Ethics & Clinical Ethics


Recent Grants only:

Principal Investigator Ongoing Grant, European ERC European Research Council, under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007‐2013)- "Subjective Risk Assessment and Informed Consent in Neonatal Prognosis,"

Co- Principal Investigator with Professor Feuillet-Liger, Grant 1408, Minister of Law and Justice (Mission Recherche Droit et Justice), France. Two parts: 1- "The Reality of the Principle of Dignity in Law, Bioethics and Medicine " 2- T"he Non Commodification of the Human Body in Law, Bioethics and Medicine "

Co- Principal Investigator (with Professor P.A. Chiappori, Columbia University), NSF Grant 1124277, " Heterogeneity, individual decision making and matching equilibria under uncertainty "

Selected Publications


1. Orfali K., Feuillet -Liger B.,(Eds), The Reality of Human Dignity in Bioethics and Law: Comparative Perspectives, Springer, Ius Gentium Series, 2017 French version : La dignité de la personne : quelles réalités ? Panorama international, Bruylant Publishing, 2016.

2. Feuillet -Liger B., Orfali K., Schamps G. (Eds). Protecting the Human Body: Legal and Bioethical Perspectives around the World, Bruylant Publishing, 2016.

3. Feuillet -Liger B., Orfali K. Callus T, (Eds.) Reproductive Technology and Changing Perceptions of Parenthood around the world". Bruylant Publishing, 2014.

4. Feuillet -Liger B., Orfali K., Callus T., (Eds.) The Female Body: A Journey through Law, Culture and Medicine". Bruylant Publishing 2013. *Book reviewed in Medical Law International 14(3) by O'Neill C. 173-178, Sage publishing, UK., 2014. * Book reviewed in Hellenic Review of International Law 2 (67) by F. PanagopouloKoutnaitzi, 1229-1232, Athens, Sakkoulas Publications, 2014.

5. Kingori P., Orfali K., deVries R., (Eds)" Bioethics in the Field: the Social (Re) production of Bioethics in Diverse Cultural Contexts" , Special issue for Social Science and Medicine , Elsevier, (vol.98, December 2013)

6. Feuillet -Liger B., Orfali K., Callus T., (Eds.), Families and End of Life Treatment. An international perspective." Bruylant Publishing 2013. *Book reviewed in Medical Law International 14(3) by Owusu-Dapaa E.179-184, Sage publishing, UK, 2014.

7. Feuillet -Liger B., Orfali K. Callus T, (Eds.) Who is my Genetic Parent? Assisted Reproduction and Donor Anonymity: a cross- cultural perspective, Bruylant Publishing, 2011

8. DeVries R., Turner L., Orfali K., Bosk C.(Eds), The View from Here: Bioethics and the Social Sciences, 12th monograph published by Sociology of Health and Illness. Blackwell Publishers 2007.

Peer reviewed (non-medical journals)

Orfali K. et al.Transnational Surrogacy: Exploitative or Empowering?" American Journal of Bioethics. 2015, 14; 5 :445-452

Botti S., Orfali K., Iyengar S.S. leading paper, "Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses in Medical Decision Contexts" Journal of Consumer Research 2010, 36, 337- 352. "Best Article of the Year Award (2010)" award from the Journal of Consumer Research, given at national meeting 2012.

DeVries R., Dingwall R., Orfali K., (2009) "The Moral Organization of Professions, Bioethics in the US and in France" Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 2009, 57(4): 555- 579.

DeVries R., Turner L., Orfali K., Bosk C. "Social Science and bioethics: morality from the ground up", Journal of Clinical Ethics, 2007; 2(1):33-35.

DeVries R., Turner L., Orfali K., Bosk C., "Social Science and Bioethics: the way forward," Sociology of Health and Illness, 2006; 28, (6): 665-677.

Anderson-Shaw L., Orfali K., "Child to parent bone marrow donation for treatment of sickle-cell disease ', Journal of Clinical Ethics, 2006, 17:964-971.

Orfali K., Anderson-Shaw L.," When medical cure is not an unmitigated good" Perspectives in Medicine and Biology, 2005, 48 (2) :282 - 92.

Orfali K., Gordon E.J., "Autonomy gone awry: a cross-cultural study on parent's experiences in neonatal care units", Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 2004, 25:329-365. Selected as one of the 2005 most influential articles in neonatology in the 2005 Yearbook of Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine (Fanaroff, AA, Maisels MJ, Stevenson DK, eds). Mosby, St. Louis, MO 2005: 331-332. Comment by J. Hellman.

Orfali K., "Parental Role and Medical Decision Making: Fact or Fiction? A comparative study of French and American practices in neonatal intensive care units, Social Science and Medicine, 2004, 58; 2009-2022.

Orfali K., [Clinical Ethics: a patient - centered approach or a clinical category?] L'émergence de l'éthique clinique : politique du sujet ou nouvelle catégorie de la clinique ? Sciences Sociales et Santé, 2003, June, 21(2), 39-68.

Orfali K., [The lay intrusion in medical decision making : the patient, the family and clinical ethics ] "L'ingérence profane dans la décision médicale : le malade, la famille et l'éthique clinique", Revue Française des Affaires Sociales, 2002, Sept. La Documentation française, 103-124.

Chiappori PA, Orfali K., [Preference and interaction : placed in perspective], "Préférences et interactions : une mise en perspective"Revue Française de Sociologie,1997, XXXVIII,