Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Christopher Charles

Dr. Christopher Charles

It’s no overstatement to say that Dr. Christopher Charles’ Lucky Iron Fish project has revolutionized the treatment of iron deficiency in Cambodia. If you’re curious about the project name, the explanation is simple: Dr. Charles created a small piece of iron shaped as a fish — a symbol of good luck in Cambodia — for families to use in their cooking pots. A cheap, convenient treatment for anemia was born. It’s no surprise then that the project has been described as a “fascinating confluence of science, innovation, service and cultural humility.”

The Lucky Iron Fish project has received media attention worldwide, won a Cannes Lions Grand Prix Award for creative communications and has now become a global social enterprise.

“I’ve always loved public health and trying to help populations of people,” says Dr. Charles in describing his involvement in Cambodia and the development of Lucky Iron Fish. “[This passion] shaped who I am today but it did not necessarily shape what I’m doing today.”

Given this and his other achievements, it’s no overstatement to describe his leadership track record as prodigious. Dr. Charles also holds a PhD in nutritional epidemiology and is currently completing his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Toronto. In addition, he continues to align his passions for global health with his career within anesthesia. As a trustee of the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society International Education Foundation, he is helping to develop locally sustainable anesthesia education programs to improve perioperative safety in low-resource settings.

“I lived and breathed the international development world for several years, and coming back to Canada, I found a number of people who have similar interests in social justice. I think I bring a different perspective, and I’ve found that’s been complementary to some of the organizations I’m working with now.”