By Mollie Barnes
The lead singer of the rock band The Offspring, Dexter Holland, will deliver the commencement address at one of the commencement ceremonies for the Keck School of Medicine of USC, speaking to PhD, MPH, and MS graduate students on May 14, 2022.
The Offspring have sold more than 40 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling rock bands in history. In addition to his musical success, Holland earned three degrees from USC, including his PhD in molecular biology, which was the culmination of a long journey of scientific exploration interrupted by huge success in his music career.
“We live in an incredibly exciting time at the crossroads of advanced medical technology and breakthroughs in research,” said Holland. “Recent innovations such as CRISPR gene editing and mRNA technologies have blown the doors open to the possibilities that medical intervention can provide. I am excited to applaud the Keck School of Medicine class of 2022 as they begin their careers during this amazing time.”
Holland graduated from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, CA and then attended USC, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master of Science in molecular biology. He began his PhD studies at USC but had to put these on hold for almost 20 years due to the incredible success of The Offspring. He finally completed his PhD in molecular biology in 2017. The title of his dissertation was “Discovery of Mature MicroRNA Sequences within the Protein-Coding Regions of Global HIV-1 Genomes: Predictions of Novel Mechanisms for Viral Infection and Pathogenicity.”
“Clearly, Dr. Holland has a passion for both music and science” said Peggy Farnham, PhD, vice dean for health and biomedical science education. “I hope that his experiences will demonstrate to our students, and to our community, that science can be an integral part of all lives.”
In addition to his PhD studies and music career, Holland has also created the hot sauce brand Gringo Bandito and piloted his plane solo around the world.
“I’ve learned that life isn’t always a straight line from one place to another,” Holland said. “I’ve always believed that education is incredibly important, and my life took me from education, to a career in rock n’ roll, and back to education. Nowadays I’m splitting my time between the two. Finding balance in life is an important lesson for me.”