Susan Desmond-Hellmann: A passionate innovator to lead the Gates Foundation

Susan Desmond-Hellmann has been selected to be the next CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation beginning in May 2014. Photo by: Doc Searls / CC BY

For much of the past decade, Susan Desmond-Hellmann has been labeled as a woman to watch out for in the corporate world.

The public health expert, who will soon be running one of the largest and most influential philanthropic organizations in the world, has made her mark within the scientific community as a champion of research and development when it comes to cancer research and drug development.

Except for a couple of years in private practice, Desmond-Hellmann has dedicated almost her entire 35-year career researching and advancing treatment for cancer-related illnesses. At biotech company Genentech, where she stayed for 14 years and became president of product development, she led efforts in developing several anti-cancer drugs, including Avastin and Herceptin.

“I loved my patients but did not enjoy private practice. I thought it was the wrong job for me. We needed better weapons against cancer and I wanted to be a part of that,” she was once quoted as saying. “Do something you’re passionate about and that challenges you.”

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.