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Born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Pardis Sabeti came to the United States with her family, at the young age of two, in search of the American Dream. Thirty years later, she has not only lived the dream, but has redefined it for immigrant women everywhere, rising to the top of the scientific world by developing an algorithm which explains the effects of genetics on the evolution of disease, and reigniting hopes for cures to diseases like Malaria and Tuberculosis which have eluded scientists for years.
That she was destined for greatness became evident early on in her academic life. Sabeti completed her undergraduate degree at MIT and continued her education at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before returning to the U.S. to earn her medical degree from Harvard Medical School where she became the third woman ever to graduate summa cum laude.
Sabeti is now an Assistant Professor in the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University where she is continuing her research, using her algorithm to deconstruct the malaria parasite to see how the parasite has evolved. By seeing how the parasite has evolved to develop drug resistances, she hopes to detect genetic vulnerabilities in malaria’s makeup. If she’s successful, future cures will be designed to attack those weaknesses.
Sabeti has not only received a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences but was named a Trailblazer by Science and Spectrum magazine as one of the top minorities in science. She is also one of the first recipients of a L’Oreal Women in Science fellowship award and named by the London Daily Telegraph as one of the “top 100 living geniuses”. She was also a panelist at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
But the genius doesn’t stop there. Sabeti is also the lead singer of the alt-rock band Thousand Days. She not only plays the bass and guitar, but writes her own lyrics, peppering her songs with persian words and phrases, which she says highlights how proud she is of her Iranian heritage.