TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Nassim Assefi

Nassim Assefi

Doctor + author + global women's health specialist

Fellows Class:
Nassim Assefi

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Doctor, Novelist, Creative Curator, Global Women's Public Health Consultant, Civic Activist (particularly in the Middle East), Thrillionaire

Current Organizations:

TEDMED, ZocDoc, Country Doctor Community Health Clinics, Public Interest Law Group, TED, TEDx, Guttmacher Institute, Hedgebrook (writing retreat for women), Wellesley College, Medical Students for Choice, Whit Press, The Next Fifty, Health Rights Interna


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Nassim Assefi the novelist
01/01/2006 – present
website for my novels and some global women's public health work. features my novel, Aria, and Say I Am You (forthcoming), references on grief, Iran, favorite books, thought leaders in global public health, TV, radio, and print interviews I've done. the usual author website with a few added twists.
Project Website »


Nassim Assefi, MD is a novelist, women’s health specialist, creative curator, civic activist, and thrillionaire working across disciplines to improve the lives of women worldwide. Past incarnations include: medical academic in Seattle, humanitarian aid worker (and underground salsa dance teacher) in Kabul, aspiring musician in Havana and writer in Istanbul. She is the author of Aria (Harcourt 2007, audiobook in 2013 & 5 foreign translations) and Say I Am You (forthcoming, about the promises and perils of humanitarianism in Afghanistan). Other projects include: serving as a program advisor for TEDMED (speaker suggestions, audience curation), defending prisoners' rights to basic health care (with the Public Interest Law Group), caring for vulnerable urban patients at The Country Doctor Community Health Clinics, doing pro-bono torture evaluations of refugees seeking political asylum, medical advising at health care start-up ZocDoc, serving on advisory boards for Hedgebrook and Afghan Vision Network, and passionate projects as a TEDGlobal Fellow and TEDx organizer. Nassim is a graduate of Wellesley College, University of Washington Medical School, and Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s residency program. A second generation Iranian-American, bridge-builder and global-nomad, she has traveled to more than 50 countries and speaks and sometimes sings in five languages. She is a 2011 Jack Straw Writing Fellow, was recently given a Woman of Courage award by the University of Washington, and was named one of the top 40 under 40 feminists by Feminist Press.

Fun facts

Favorite meal:
I have a habit of collecting chef friends (perhaps to compensate for my culinary inadequacies) and have had some amazing meals in their home kitchens--Najmieh Batmanglij (Iranian), Tiberio Simone (Italian), Jerilyn Brusseau (Northwest), Michael Hebb (in the flow).

A funny story about me:
Ask me about medical espionage and a stealth medical exam I once did of Fidel Castro.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2009
Persian (Farsi)
Living in
Seattle, United States
Working in
Seattle, United States
Born in
Los Angeles, United States



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