Reed College

Portland, OR

Reed College

Portland, OR

Health & Medicine Profile

A nexus for excellence: Reed College

Reed College is located 10 minutes from downtown Portland, Oregon, a vibrant metropolis of waterfalls, bridges, and parks of every size.  For more than a century, the College has been a nexus for a diverse group of scholars who wrestle with big ideas and explore ways to apply those ideas to the world around them. Learning is cherished at Reed; it isn’t outside the norm to talk about your passions and discoveries. If you’re ready to look beyond the superficial, seek the truth, and discover unlimited possibilities, you’re ready for Reed. 

With a student-faculty ratio of 10:1 andall classes taught by professors rather than teaching assistants, undergraduate education comes first at Reed. The conference method of learning brings together small groups of students to discuss great ideas, read primary texts by leading thinkers, and form opinions and defend them with skill and nuance. Guided by a thoughtfully constructed sequence of topics and architecture of ideas, students map an academic course that culminates in the senior thesis. They work alongside their professors, with whom they share a deep enthusiasm for scholarship, inquiry, and academic excellence.

Asking questions is a social activity for Reedies. You’ll overhear heated debates about Plato in the Sports Center and get caught up in string theory on the Quad. Whoever you are (even if you’re still deciding who that is), you’ll find that the Honor Principle supports differences and creates respect within the Reed community. Reed is a humanizing place of infinite subsets that offer you the opportunity to be yourself across all your interests. You’ll find your tribe in the classroom, exploring Reed Canyon, or hiking in the Cascade Mountains.

Four years of college can seem like a long time and paradoxically like no time at all, but your time at Reed will leave an imprint on you that will extend throughout your life; once a Reedie, always a Reedie. Exposure to the primary disciplines of human knowledge prepares graduates to go on to fascinating professions in science, art, medicine, global politics, education, and the environment. Reed ranks among the top undergraduate institutions in the nation in the percentage of graduates going on to earn PhDs in Physical Sciences (ranked #3) and the life sciences (ranked #2).

Distinguished alumni include Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger ’91; neuroscientist Kenneth Koe ’45, inventor of Zoloft; environmental chemist and mountaineer Arlene Blum ’66; attorney William Hohengarten’84, whose arguments persuaded the US Supreme Court to strike down Texas laws against sodomy; beat poet Gary Snyder ’51; best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich ’63; and geneticist Pamela Ronald ’82, who developed a strain of drought-resistantrice. (Notable dropouts include Steve Jobs.)

Student life
While there is a robust outdoor program, a recently renovated sports center, and a long tradition of club sportsat Reed, there are no varsity athletic teams. Campus social life is open toall, with no exclusive clubs or organizations; there are no fraternities or sororities at Reed. Some of Reed’s organizations include the Black and African Student Union, KRRC-FM (the campus radio station), a constantly growing comic book library, Oh For Christ’s Sake (Christian organization), Chabad (Jewish cultural organization), The Creative Review, the Feminist StudentUnion, and the Bike Co-op.

Health and medicine at Reed
The emphasis on independent learning and research, critical thinking, and the rigor of the academic environment at Reed are excellent preparation for a career in medicine and health care. Reed’s curriculum allows students interested in medicine and health care to complete coursework required for admission to medical school and explore interests in other fields.

Reedies who go on to medical school most frequently attend Stanford University, Harvard University, and Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Pre-health advising at Reed
Reed has a team of four interdisciplinary faculty members in Psychology, Biology, and Chemistry, as well as a designated Pre-health advisor in the Center for Life Beyond Reed office, who serve as Pre-health advisors. This team collaborates to work with students one-on-one, offering support in Pre-health exploration, continuing education, and the application process. They also advise on events and volunteering to gain experience.

Students have access to all these members of the Pre-health committee as well as a plethora of engaged Reed alumni and volunteers. Alumni comeback to campus to support students and invite Reedies into the hospitals, universities, and clinics where they work for volunteer or job shadowing experience.

Spotlight on: Research in the Medical Field at Reed
Professor Erik Zornik was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his research on mechanisms in the brain that generate rhythmic behavior. Because many neurological disorders involve disruptions of normal rhythms, the overarching goal of the research, he says, “is to discover novel mechanisms that underlie rhythm generation, potentially leading to novel treatments.”



Ranked #1 for the "Best Classroom Experience" | The Princeton Review


Fourth-highest producer of PhDs per capita among all US Colleges and Universities


Ranked #2 for "Professors Get High Marks"


Ranked #6 for "Great Financial Aid"


Second-highest producer of Rhode Scholars among Liberal Arts Colleges with 32


116 Fulbright Scholars

Reed College At A Glance

Student body: 1,483
Percentage of students from outside the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon, Washington): 83%
Student-faculty ratio: 10:1
Average class size: 17 students

• The College offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in 26 departmental majors, 16 interdisciplinary areas, and dual-degree (3-2) programs in Engineering, Forestry, and Visual Arts.
• Among all institutions, Reed ranks fourth in the nation in production of future PhDs in all disciplines. It ranks second in the nation in life sciences and third in the nation in social sciences (source: NSF WebCASPAR; data compiled by HEDS).
• Graduate schools most frequently attended by Reed alumni for Law, Medicine, Business, and other graduate study include the Universities of Chicago, California, Oregon, and Washington; Yale; Harvard; Stanford; Cornell; MIT; and Johns Hopkins.
• Reed has produced the second-highest number of Rhodes Scholars from a small college (32).

Examples of Reed Theses

• “A Tale of Two Proteins: Towards Cloning, Expression, and Purification of the bHLHZip Domains of MondoA and M1x”
• “Action of Cytoskeletal Crosslinking Proteins in Nuclear Positioning and Migration”
• “Keep Talkin’ Happy Talk: Civil Rights on Broadway in the Late 1940s”
• “Intersections of Global Capitalism and Indigeneity: Problems of International Environmental and Social Justice”
• “Investigations Into BosR, a Borrelia Burgdorferi DNA-Binding Protein”
• “Suspending the Plot of the Real: Narratives of Collective Action in Chicana/o Literature and History”
• “Decreased Telomerase Activity in Conjunction With Life Stress in Astatotilapia Burtoni”
• “Islam on the Inside: An Ethnographic Case Study of Muslims in an Oregon Prison”
• “Language Revitalization and Its Sociocultural Context: Chinook Jargon”
• “Non-kinship Social Bonds in Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus Orca)”
• “The Dynamics of a Nonlinear Time-Delayed Electronic System”

What Reedies Do in the Health and Medicine Fields

Katherine DeLand ’95, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Chief of Staff of WHO’s Ebola Response

Preetha Rajaraman ’94, Biology
Epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute

Jonathan Bates ’67, Chemistry
President and CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital

Roger Perlmutter ’73, Biology
President of Merck Research Laboratories 

An Inside Look