Gates Foundation picks California university chancellor as new CEO

Susan Desmond-Hellman

Susan Desmond-Hellman. Photo via UCSF. 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that it has found its next chief executive: Susan Desmond-Hellman, who is currently serving as the Chancellor of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Desmond-Hellman will be taking the place of Jeff Raikes, the former CEO of the foundation, who announced in September that he would be retiring after spending five years as the chief executive. She brings with her a strong background in oncology and medical research, having served as the President of Product Development for Genentech prior to taking her job as the head of UCSF in 2009.

“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,” foundation co-chair Melinda Gates said in a press release. “Sue shares our commitment and passion to create a more equitable world.”

Bill and Melinda Gates introduce Susan Desmond-Hellman to Gates Foundation staff (via @melindagates)

Bill and Melinda Gates introduce Susan Desmond-Hellman to Gates Foundation staff (via @melindagates)

While she was a professor at UCSF, Desmond-Hellman spent two years working at the Uganda Cancer Institute, studying HIV/AIDS and cancer, which would seem to help strengthen her as a candidate for the Gates Foundation position.

“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,” she said in a press release.

In addition to her role at UCSF, Desmond-Hellman also sits on the boards of Facebook and Proctor and Gamble. She will officially start work at the Gates Foundation in May.

  • Chris Kelly

    Sounds like a great choice for the foundation.