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Penn announced that Siddhartha Mukherjee will be the Class of 2024 Commencement speaker (Photo from Ernesto del Aguila III, NHGRI | Public Domain).

Physician, researcher, and best-selling author Siddhartha Mukherjee will deliver Penn’s Commencement speech for the Class of 2024. 

Penn will grant Mukherjee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for “The Emperor of All Maladies,” an honorary doctor of sciences degree, according to the Thursday announcement from Vice President and University Secretary Medha Narvekar. The 268th Commencement — which will take place May 20 at Franklin Field — will grant degrees to graduates, celebrate honorary degree recipients, and feature remarks from University officials and the commencement speaker.

Mukherjee is currently an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University and an oncologist at Columbia University's Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research centers around the link between normal cancer cells and stem cells and the biology of blood development. 

“I am delighted that Siddhartha Mukherjee has accepted our invitation to address the Class of 2024 at Commencement,” Interim President Larry Jameson wrote in the announcement. “Dr. Mukherjee is 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. It will be a day to remember as he shares his passion and wisdom with our graduates and their families.”

Time Magazine named “The Emperor of All Maladies” as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the past century. Ken Burns, Penn's 2022 Commencement speaker, adapted both "The Emperor of All Maladies" and "The Gene" into PBS documentaries. 

According to the announcement, five other individuals will receive honorary degrees at commencement alongside Mukherjee: Ingrid Daubechies, Karl Deisseroth, Kenny Gamble, Maya Lin, and Leon Huff.

Daubechies is a professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University and was the first woman to receive the Wolf Prize — a prestigious prize in mathematics. According to the announcement, Daubechies’ work centers on the “mathematical tools for analysis of signals, images, and data.”

Deisseroth, who is also receiving a doctor of sciences degree, is a professor of Bioengineering and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Deisseroth is also a practicing psychiatrist and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Deisseroth focuses on major depression and autism and his lab has worked to develop technology to increase understanding of how the brain circuits. 

A Philadelphia native and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Gamble will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. His record label — founded alongside Huff — produced hits such as “Love Train,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

Huff — who has written more than 3,500 songs — will also receive an honorary doctor of music degree. Alongside Gamble, Huff has received the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The duo also received a Grammy Award for their co-written album, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”

Environmentalist, designer, and artist Lin will receive an honorary doctor of arts degree. Lin is known for her career in arts and architecture and has worked on several well-known designs, including the Madison Square Park installation, Ghost Forest, and her Decoding the Tree of Life sculpture at the Penn Medicine Pavilion. Lin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.