Oncologist and Author Siddhartha Mukherjee to Speak

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Siddhartha Mukherjee will be the Commencement speaker for Penn’s 268th Commencement ceremony, scheduled for Monday, May 20. An associate professor of medicine and oncologist at Columbia University, Mukherjee has done pioneering research in the composition and behavior of cancer cells and is also a bestselling author of books and articles on health, medicine, and science.

“I am delighted that Siddhartha Mukherjee has accepted our invitation to address the Class of 2024 at Commencement,” said Penn Interim President J. Larry Jameson in a statement announcing Mukherjee’s selection in March, calling him a “brilliant oncologist and researcher who has provided an invaluable service to the world by conveying the history and complexity of important medical subjects through his acclaimed writings.”

Mukherjee’s research on cancer pathology has contributed to the development of innovative treatments based on biological and cellular therapies rather than traditional pharmaceuticals. He has received numerous awards for his scientific work, which has been published in journals such as Nature, Cell, and the New England Journal of Medicine. He’s also written for the general public in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, and other publications, as well as in three popular and critically acclaimed books.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, published in 2011, won the Pulitzer Prize and was included among the top 100 nonfiction books of the past century by Time magazine. He followed that with The Gene: An Intimate History in 2016 and 2022’s The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human. Noted documentarian Ken Burns, who spoke at Penn’s 2022 Commencement ceremony [“Gazetteer,” Jul|Aug 2022] adapted both The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene for PBS.

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