Epidemiologist Speaks at Commencement

Cancer expert Preetha Rajaraman ’94 is at forefront of global public health.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | May 13, 2018

Dr. Preetha Rajaraman ’94, the health attaché for India for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will deliver the keynote address to the graduates at Reed’s 104th commencement ceremony on Monday, May 14, 2018.

Dr. Rajaraman serves as a key point of contact for global health diplomacy, facilitating relationships between U.S. researchers and local counterparts to work together to fight disease. She is also an expert in the epidemiology of cancer, particularly brain tumors.

Raised in Africa, Dr. Rajaraman went to high school in Botswana and arrived at Reed intending to major in literature or theatre. But she found her science courses so compelling that she switched her focus to biology instead, writing her thesis with Prof. Bob Kaplan on the Asian fire-bellied toad.

While completing her PhD, she joined the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute as a predoctoral fellow in 2001, where she investigated the effects of lead exposure on brain tumors and the carcinogenic effects of exposure to radiation. She has authored more than 100 scientific papers on subjects from genomic research to atomic bomb survivors to the link between cancer and chlorinated solvents.

Dr. Rajaraman holds a BA in biology from Reed, a master’s in environmental health from the University of Washington, and a PhD in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins. She was selected as commencement speaker by Reed's senior class.


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