Dr. Pardis Sabeti: Breaking Ethnic and Gender Stereotypes


View video here.

Instilled with a sense of drive from her Iranian-American parents, Dr. Pardis Sabeti excelled in school and became a leading figure in the field of computational genetics. She is an Assistant Professor at Harvard University where she researches ways to prevent the spread of malaria and other infectious diseases. CNN honored Sabeti in 2007 by naming her among eight  “trailblazing scientists who are about to change your life.”

She came to the United States with her family when she was two years old, having lost everything. The Islamic Revolution had forced her family to leave Iran. But Sabeti,as a former Rhodes Scholar, partly attributes her professional success to her immigrant background. “There’s something about coming to a different culture,” she said. “You don’t understand the culture so you don’t know what the boundaries are of that culture.” From a young age, she loved talking about math and wanted to play football and soccer with the boys.

Today Sarbeti mentors Iranian youth. “You know the internet makes the world so small,” Sabeti says.  “I get e-mails almost every day…from young scientists in Iran and just lots of young people, and it’s wonderful.”

She is also a member of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and is eager to combat stereotypes of Iranians everywhere. In the video posted above, she says:

I was born in Tehran, Iran. I’m very proud of my Iranian heritage. I think most Americans don’t really have a sense of who Iranians are. They see a lot of what’s going on by the regime and the people in power and they reflect it to us but we’re very different from that. You see Iranians in America and how creative they are and how excited they are and how much they get involved in their communities and I think it’s a wonderful thing.

You can also watch her perform with her rock band, Thousand Days, in a 2008 profile produced by PBS. “You do what you love, and things happen fast.” Sabeti says. As a teacher, scientist, and musician, Sabeti interacts with people from a variety of backgrounds and her successful career provides inspiration to women and minorities in the United States and abroad.

PAAIA chose Dr. Pardis Sabeti to be one of the first individuals featured in their video series, “Profiles of Iranian Americans.” The series is meant to counter negative stereotypes of the Iranian community and to inspire youth to take pride in their heritage and their Iranian-American identity. Please visit the “Profiles of Iranian Americans” website to learn more about the series.

View video here.