Ambady succumbs to leukemia

Nov. 1, 2013, 12:10 a.m.

Stanford psychology professor Nalini Ambady passed away on Monday, Oct. 28 after a prolonged battle with leukemia.

Ambady was a renowned professor of social psychology and a leading expert on interpersonal communications. She became the first person of Indian origin to teach in Stanford’s psychology department when she joined the faculty in 2011.

Ambady was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004 but treatment successfully put the disease into remission. Throughout her treatment, friends and family spoke of Ambady’s compassion for others even in the face of a daunting disease. When she relapsed in November 2012, her students and friends embarked on a worldwide campaign to find a bone marrow donor for her.

Because Ambady was of South Asian descent, her odds of finding a match were extremely low — bone marrow matches are most likely to be found within one’s ethnicity and South Asians are severely underrepresented in bone marrow registries.

Ultimately, a dozen potential matches were found, but half turned out to be incompatible and those who were compatible chose not to donate.

Ambady is survived by her husband Raj Marphatia and their two daughters.


Students are encouraged to seek help from grief resources on campus if they feel they need to at, or by calling Vaden Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services at (650) 723-3785. Support services are available to faculty and staff at the Help Center by calling (650) 723-4577.

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