Perelman School of Medicine 2021 Commencement

March 26, 2021

To:Faculty, Students, and Staff

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD
Suzanne Rose, MD, MSEd

It is our pleasure to invite you to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our graduating medical students at the Perelman School of Medicine’s 2021 Commencement on May 16. A link to the ceremony, which will be conducted in compliance with University guidelines as a virtual event, will be forthcoming.

We are privileged this year to welcome back to Penn as Commencement Speaker Rajiv J. Shah, MD, MS. A graduate of PSOM and Wharton, Dr. Shah now serves as President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

doctor shah As a physician and health economist operating at the highest levels of government service and private philanthropy, Dr. Shah has been a leader in global health for two decades. In 2009, he was appointed Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by President Obama. Dr. Shah reshaped the $20 billion agency’s operations in more than 70 countries around the world by elevating the role of innovation, creating high impact public-private partnerships, and focusing U.S. investments to deliver stronger results. 

Dr. Shah secured bipartisan support that included the passage of two significant laws – the Global Food Security Act and the Electrify Africa Act.  He also led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola pandemic, served on the National Security Council, and elevated the role of development as part of our nation’s foreign policy. Prior to his appointment at USAID, Dr. Shah served as Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics at the United States Department of Agriculture where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

In 2015, Dr. Shah was one of six global leaders appointed by the United Nations to review the world's capacity to prepare for and respond to global pandemic threats.

Earlier in his career, he served in a range of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he created the International Financing Facility for Immunization, which helped reshape the global vaccine industry and has been recognized as an example of the power of innovative financing for global development. He later founded Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on power and infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia. Dr. Shah became president of The Rockefeller Foundation in 2017.

In keeping with his impact, Dr. Shah has received numerous awards, including the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, the highest official honor for a non-resident Indian, awarded by the President of India, and the U.S. Global Leadership Council Tribute Award.  In 2020 he was awarded the University of Virginia Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership.

Dr. Shah joins a roster of distinguished scientists, physicians, and health care leaders as commencement speakers.  We look forward to hearing from Dr. Shah at this year’s Commencement and hope that you will join us.

Past Commencement Speakers

1994 Dr. Samuel Thier, President of Brandeis University and former Professor and Chairman of Penn’s Medical School
1995 Dr. Stanley Cohen, Kwoh-Ting Li Professor of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine
Dr. David Kessler, Director, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
1996 Dr. Michael Brown, Nobel Laureate; Paul J. Thomas Professor of Medicine and Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Louis Sokoloff, Chief, Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism, National Institutes of Mental Health

1997 Dr. Philip R. Lee, former Assistant Secretary for Health, DHHS
1998 Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director, National Human Genome Research Institute of the NIH
Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner, Professor of Neurology at UCSF and winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine
1999 Dr. Kenneth I. Shine, President, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
2000 Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, President, Association of American Medical Colleges
2001 Dr. Michael S. Brown, C'62, M'66, Nobel Laureate; Paul J. Thomas Professor of Molecular Genetics; Director, Jonsson Center for Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
2002 Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
2003 Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
2004 Dr. Henry W. Foster, Jr., Professor Emeritus and former Dean, School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College and Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt University
2005 Dr. Helene D. Gayle, Director of the HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2006 Dr. Jeffrey M. Leiden, Former President and Chief Operating Officer, Pharmaceutical Products Group, Abbott Laboratories
2007 Dr. Atul Gawande, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
2008 Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, President Emeritus, Association of American Medical Colleges, Professor of Medicine and Public Health, George Washington University
2009 Dr. Christine K. Cassel, President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and ABIM Foundation
2010 Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, The Emmanual and Robert Hart Director of the Center for Bioethics and the Sydney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
2011 Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, Executive Vice President and Dean
2012 Dr. Peter C. Agre, University Professor and Director, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, Bloomberg school of Public Health
2013 Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response RADM, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2014 Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, President, Brigham and Women’s Healthcare, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
2015 Dr. Gaetano Thiene, Professor of Pathology, University of Padua Medical School
2016 Dr. Michael S. Brown, Regental Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
2017 Dr. Robert M. Wachter, Distinguished Professor, Chair of the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
2018 Dr. Gail Morrison, William Maul Measey President’s Distinguished Professor in Medical Education, Special Advisor to the EVP/Dean, Executive Director Innovation Center for Online Medical Education
2019 Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, Managing Director of Tuckson Health Connections, LLC
2020 Dr. Katrina Armstrong, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital