Liza Buchbinder, MD, PhD

Liza Buchbinder is an anthropologist and internist within the field of social medicine, and her research focuses on critical human rights and vulnerability in institutional settings, be it the criminal justice system, the human rights industry, or the American hospital system. Her most substantial research project is based on a lifelong commitment to a rural community in Togo, West Africa, that she first encountered as a Peace Corps volunteer. Oscillating back and forth between West Africa and the United States over twenty years, she has profiled the community’s diaspora of adolescent labor migrants. This work is the basis for a book manuscript at the University of Wisconsin Press on the limits of naming violence against adolescent domestic servants through the rights discourse on child trafficking. She is also developing a new project in Togo that interrogates the relationship between changing indigenous landscapes due to climate change & deforestation and its impact on ritualized religious & healing practices.

Clinically, Dr. Buchbinder works as a hospitalist for UCLA Health and as a physician for a jail in southern California. As an embroiled provider and anthropologist working in a diverse array of settings, she draws on her experiences as a practitioner to write clinical ethnography for academic medical and social science journals. Presently, she is the lead editor and contributing author for a special issue entitled “Ethnography of and in Clinical Formation: Poetics and Politics of Dual Subjectivity” in Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.  As a core member of the University of North Carolina STEPPS research team, Dr Buchbinder has also co-authored articles on physician burnout and pandemic stress in flagship journals, such as the Journal of General Internal Medicine, American Journal of Bioethics, and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

research interest

Dr. Buchbinder’s research focuses on critical human rights & development and the relationship between habitat destruction and emerging infectious diseases. An embroiled clinician and anthropologist working in a diverse array of settings, she is also working on an ethnography that explores physician-patient subjectivity and burnout. 

selected publications

Buchbinder, Mara, Tania Jenkins, John Staley, Nancy Berlinger, Liza Buchbinder, and Lily Goldberg. “Multidimensional stressors and protective factors shaping physicians’ work environments and work‐related well‐being in two large US cities during COVID‐19.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2023).

Buchbinder, Mara, Alyssa Browne, Nancy Berlinger, Tania Jenkins, and Liza Buchbinder. “Moral Stress and Moral Distress: Confronting Challenges in Healthcare Systems under Pressure.” The American Journal of Bioethics (2023): 1-15.

Buchbinder M, Browne A, Jenkins T, Berlinger N, Buchbinder L. “Hospital Physicians’ Perspectives on Occupational Stress During COVID-19: a Qualitative Analysis from Two US Cities” Journal of General Internal Medicine 38 (1), 176-184, 2023.

Browne A, Jenkins T, Berlinger N, Buchbinder L, Buchbinder M. “The impact of health inequities on physicians’ occupational well‐being during COVID‐19: A qualitative analysis from four US cities” Journal of Hospital Medicine, 2023.

Buchbinder, Liza and Holmes, S, “In a defunded health system, doctors and nurses suffer near-impossible conditions,”, March 29, 2020.  

Buchbinder, Liza, “How doctors’ fears of getting COVID-19 can mean losing the healing power of touch: One physician’s story,” The Conversation, June 16, 2020.

Whitacre, Ryan, Buchbinder L, and Holmes S. “The pandemic present.” Social Anthropology. 2020 May 19. doi:10.1111/1469-8676.12829.  

Choi K, Saadi A, Takada S, Easterlin M, Buchbinder L, Johnson D, Zimmerman F . “Longitudinal Associations Between Healthcare Resources, Policy, and Firearm-Related Suicide and Homicide from 2012 to 2016.” J Gen Intern Med. 2020;35(7):2043-2049. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-05613-3

Takada, Sae, Kristen Choi, Shaw Natsui, Altaf Saadi, Liza Buchbinder, Molly Easterlin, and Frederick Zimmerman. “Network analysis of firearm movement among US states.” (2020),

Choi Kristen, Takada Sae, Saadi Altaf, Easterlin Molly, Buchbinder Liza, Natsui Shaw, Zimmerman Fred. “The relationship of nursing practice laws to suicide and homicide rates: a longitudinal analysis of US states from 2012 to 2016.” BMC Health Services Research. 2020 Mar 6;20(1):176. PMID: 32143696

Buchbinder, Liza, “Who Do You Believe about Togo’s Uprising?” Africa Is A Country, Accessed May 15, 2018.