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Event Summary

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joined AEI President Arthur Brooks to kick off AEI’s Grand Opening Week. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after 14 years at Genentech and another four years as the first female chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Brooks and Dr. Desmond-Hellmann’s conversation focused on her background in medicine; what she learned in Uganda fighting HIV/AIDS, cancer, and rare tropical diseases; and how the foundation is working to advance its motto that “all lives have equal value.”

Dr. Desmond-Hellmann described how precision public health can save lives around the world by getting the right interventions to the right populations in the right places. She concluded the event by discussing what she has learned from the foundation’s successful and less-than-successful grantmaking.
–Spencer Moore

Event Description

Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested nearly $40 billion in global health, global development, and US education since 2000. The foundation’s vision is a world where every person has the chance to lead a healthy, productive life.

Since 2014, the foundation has been led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann. As a physician and scientist, she was at the forefront of the precision medicine revolution. Today, she is bringing the same principles to public health. The new approach, known as precision public health, aims to deliver the right health interventions to the right people in the right place at the right time.

AEI is proud to host Dr. Desmond-Hellmann for a conversation with AEI President Arthur Brooks on how advances in health delivery and technology can save lives and how private, public, and philanthropic resources can be used to eradicate inequity, poverty, and disease.

Join the conversation on social media with #AEIGOW and @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


9:15 AM
Breakfast and registration

9:30 AM

Arthur C. Brooks, AEI
Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

10:10 AM
Audience Q&A

10:40 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Spencer Moore at [email protected], 202.862.5835.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI and the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 11 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His books include “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America” (Broadside Books, 2015), “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Dr. Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Sue Desmond-Hellmann is a physician, scientist, and philanthropist who has devoted her career to improving the human condition. As a pioneer in health care for more than 30 years, she has driven major developments toward the eradication of disease, poverty, and inequity. Today, as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann leads the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Drawing on her diverse experience in the public and private sectors, she creates an environment for talented and committed individuals to help more children and young people survive and thrive, combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest, and empower people — particularly women and girls — to transform their lives. Trained as an oncologist, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann spent 14 years at biotech firm Genentech developing a number of breakthrough medicines, including two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer, Avastin and Herceptin. In November 2009, Forbes magazine named her one of the world’s seven most “powerful innovators.” Her time at Genentech put her at the forefront of the precision medicine revolution, and in her current role, she champions a similar approach to global development: precision public health — getting the right interventions, to the right populations, in the right places, to save lives. Immediately before joining the foundation in 2014, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann was the first female chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), overseeing all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy and operations. It was her second stint at UCSF, having completed her clinical training there in the 1980s. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. She was listed among Fortune magazine’s “top 50 most powerful women in business” for seven years and, in 2010, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and elected to the Institute of Medicine. She serves on the board of directors at Facebook Inc.

Related Material

Sue Desmond Hellmann: A smarter, more precise way to think about public health

Banter #244: Sue Desmond-Hellmann on the Gates Foundation, precision public health, and education
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Spencer Moore, and Andrew Smith | Banter Podcast | November 29, 2016

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