Dr. James Cobey is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon also trained in public health, with an independent practice which specializes in major trauma, spine reconstruction, and total joint replacement. A long-time Physicians for Human Rights expert volunteer, Dr. Cobey conducted the medical research for the landmark 1991 report “Landmines in Cambodia: A Coward’s War,” co-published by PHR and Asia Watch (now Human Rights Watch). This groundbreaking analysis of the catastrophic legacy of landmines led to the creation of the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL), which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize together with its coordinator, Jody Williams. As a founding member of ICBL, PHR shared in the Prize.
Since then, Dr. Cobey has worked with PHR and the coordinating committee of the ICBL to study the epidemiology of landmines and consulted on other human rights issues. He has worked closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other ICBL members to develop standardized epidemiological techniques to measure the impact of landmine injuries on countries and the success of relief efforts, as well as spearheading projects to standardize tools to evaluate the effectiveness of the landmine treaty. Dr. Cobey has also examined many refugees seeking asylum for PHR over the past two decades.
Dr. Cobey has been the team doctor for Gallaudet University (school for the deaf) for 20 years. He is past president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and studied surgical capacities in Malawi for the WHO. Most recently, he has helped the Indian Health Service by doing surgery for the Navajo reservation in Arizona, as well as teaching in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
Dr. Cobey has served on the boards and advisory committees of the American Fracture Association, the National Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross, Capitol Hill Hospitals, the Fogarty International Center of the NIH, Refugees International, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Washington, D.C., as well as Health Volunteers Overseas. He is the recipient of the 1992 Charles R. Drew award and the 1998 International Humanitarian Service Award from the American Red Cross, the 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University, and the 2002 Frank Annunzio Award from the Christopher Columbus Foundation.
Dr. Cobey graduated from Hamilton College with an AB in History. He received his MD from the Johns Hopkins Medical School and his MPH at the School of Hygiene and Public Health, focusing on international health. He served in the U.S. Army as chief of the Preventive Medicine Service at Fort Lewis, Washington (1971-1973), attaining the rank of Major and receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. He completed his orthopedic residency in 1976 at Yale University.