Return to Headlines

Dr. Janet Lee, 2000 Anoka High School grad, receives recognition as top surgeon in Minnesota Monthly magazine

Dr. Janet Lee, a 2000 graduate of Anoka High School (AHS), received a nod of respect from her colleagues in 2021 when she was named to the “Top Doctors” list by Minnesota Monthly. A surgeon at Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates (CRSAL), Lee was also recognized in 2019 as a "Top Doctor - Rising Star” by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Each year both magazines ask licensed Minnesota doctors, “If you or a loved one needed medical care, which doctor would you recommend?” Their most frequent answers help to comprise the lists.

“I joined a practice that is already really well established in the Twin Cities, so some of my partners have been colorectal surgeons for 20 to 30 years and everyone knows them,” Lee said. “After a few years I was a rising star for doctors in their first 10 years of practice, so to be finally recognized at the same level as my senior partners and the people that trained me…[it] was nice to feel like I’m not just the new girl anymore.” 

Lee is no stranger to awards and recognition after her time at AHS where she was a standout student and heavily involved in activities and athletics. She finished top of her class, was first chair viola for three years in the All-State orchestra and was a captain of the cross country team. Lee also participated in other local youth orchestras and was a member of the track and field team. She was a captain of the Math Team and Knowledge Bowl Team and was a member of the Multicultural Club, Speech Team, Art Club and the National Honor Society.

“Anoka had a lot of great opportunities for activities so I just took advantage of exploring different things and getting involved,” Lee said. “It really helped me know what I like to do and work on different skills that are good for life; like teamwork, discipline, and getting along with other people. Getting to interact with a variety of students was really important and helpful for me to venture out and take advantage of other opportunities.”

After high school she attended Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with a degree in anthropology and citation in Mandarin Chinese. She then returned home and completed medical school at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2008. Lee became a general surgeon in 2015 and a colorectal surgeon in 2016.

Lee’s two older siblings also had academic success after attending AHS, as her older brother, Terrence, has degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from the U of M, and her older sister, Laura, earned an undergraduate degree in social studies and a Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard University.

As a specialist at the St. Paul office of CRSAL, Lee works primarily at United Hospital and M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital. She also has a role as an adjunct assistant professor at the U of M. With her time on the admissions committee for the U of M medical school, Lee has seen a lot of applications and has some inspirational messages for students. 

“Be open to learning about everything, make sure you have the opportunities to explore other things and if you want to change your mind - you can,” Lee said. “You don’t have to follow any one set path. The ones that spend time doing other things show that they know what they want to do.”

Lee has continued some of the activities that she participated in at AHS as hobbies. Distance running became a focus during her residency and in the last nine years she has completed 15 marathons. Her last marathon was the 2021 Boston Marathon after qualifying in 2019. She also still enjoys music, even if she doesn’t have the time to play. 

“I ran cross country in high school and recreationally in college and medical school, but it wasn’t until I was a resident when I thought about doing a long distance race,” Lee said. “I tried a marathon and I was hooked.”Dr. Janet Lee, a surgeon at Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates, was recently recognized on the "Top Doctors" list.

“In high school, orchestra, music and musical theater were my main things,” Lee said. “I don’t have the time now to play, but I still enjoy going to musicals, obviously pre-pandemic. I enjoy appreciating music, supporting other musicians, and staying in touch with people that I played with that are professional musicians now.”