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President Valerie Smith's Charge to Jon Lorsch '90

Jon Lorsch '90 receives honorary degree

Jon Lorsch '90 receives his Doctor of Sciences hood from biochemist Amy Cheng Vollmer.

Jon Lorsch, Swarthmore College Class of 1990, is an extraordinary biochemist whose work has had direct implications on the study of medical diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and viral infections. He has authored over 70 research papers and currently serves as the director of the NIH’s  National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). NIGMS supports basic research that increases the understanding of biological processes, more specifically to lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. 

Since 2013, Jon Lorsch has served as a visionary leader of the NIGMS which is particularly evident in his commitment to developing programs to support scientists of all backgrounds. He has led the NIGMS with the knowledge that the next generation of extraordinary scientists will be diverse in their identities, experiences, and backgrounds.

Prior to his role at NIGMS, Jon served as member of the faculty at Johns Hopkins where he was a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical chemistry. At Johns Hopkins, his passion for education was reflected in his work to reform graduate and medical school education. He led the development for the Center for Innovation in Graduate Biomedical Education which not only serves as place for pedagogical innovation, but also serves as a resource to prepare biomedical students for the myriad careers they may enter. 

 Jon Lorsch, in your research, inspired leadership, and dedicated mentorship, you embody the defining values of Swarthmore’s founders. And now, upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Sciences.