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2019–20 Zuzana Simoniova Cmelikova Visiting Scholar

Dr. Rana Dajani

Dr. Rana Dajani is the 2019-20 Zuzana Simoniova Cmelikova Visiting Scholar at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. She is a tenured associate professor of biology and biotechnology at The Hashemite University in Jordan. Just prior to coming to the Jepson School, Dajani was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. She has also been an Eisenhower fellow, a Fulbright visiting professor at Yale University, and a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge. 

Dajani researches the epigenetics of trauma across generations, with a focus on resiliency, and is an international expert on genetics of Circassian and Chechen populations in Jordan. She also conducts genome-wide association studies regarding diabetes and cancer on stem cells. She spearheaded the development of the  stem cell research ethics law in Jordan and advocates for biological evolution theory in relation to Islam.

Arabian Business lists Dajani as one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women.” In 2017, she was one of seven Fulbright alumni to receive the inaugural IIE Global Changemaker Award. Dajani is the recipient of Jordan’s Order of Al Hussein for Distinguished Contributions of the Second Class. She received the Klaus Jacobs Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2018 and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Award from the United Nations in 2019.

Dajani is the founder and director of the nongovernmental organization We Love Reading, for which she has earned the Library of Congress Literacy Award Best Practices, a Stars Impact Award, the Synergos Arab World Social Innovator award, a WISE Award, and recognition from IDEO.org. Her book "Five Scarves: Doing the Impossible--If We Can Reverse Cell Fate, Why Can't We Redefine Success?" was published in 2018.

Dajani earned her doctorate in molecular cell biology from the University of Iowa.