SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has selected Susan Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., as its next chief executive officer. Currently the chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Desmond-Hellmann will assume her role on May 1, 2014.
“We chose Sue because of her scientific knowledge and deep technical expertise on the foundation’s issues, as well as the organizational and leadership skills required to lead a large, growing and dynamic global organization. Sue shares our commitment and passion to create a more equitable world,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation.
“I am honored by the opportunity that Bill and Melinda have extended to me. I’m excited to join such a dynamic and ambitious organization, with such a clear and focused mission—improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable,” said Desmond-Hellmann.
“Sue’s background in public health policy, research and development, and higher education, make her an exceptional fit for this role. She impressed us as an innovator and an outstanding leader and manager,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation.
An oncologist by training, Desmond-Hellmann is a recognized leader on issues of higher education, public health, drug development, regulatory innovation and health policy. She has led UCSF since August 2009, when she became the first woman to serve as the university’s chancellor, overseeing all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy, academic programs and operations. She has extensive experience in product development, and a deep understanding of how to bridge applied research to delivery of product. Prior to her tenure at UCSF, she was President of Product Development at Genentech, where she led the development and introduction of two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer, Avastin and Herceptin.
Desmond-Hellmann also served as a member of Genentech’s executive committee, beginning in 1996. She sits on the boards of directors of Procter and Gamble and Facebook, and was previously a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Economic Advisory Council.
Desmond-Hellmann will take over from Jeff Raikes, who announced his retirement from the foundation in September 2013 after five years at the helm. He was the foundation’s second CEO, and served after a long and successful career as a senior executive at Microsoft.