Gates Foundation Hires UC San Francisco Chancellor as CEO

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hired Susan Desmond-Hellmann, currently the chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, as chief executive officer.

Desmond-Hellmann, an oncologist by training who has led the university since 2009, starts on May 1 and replaces Jeff Raikes, who announced his retirement in September after five years at the Gates Foundation. Prior to becoming the first female chancellor of the university, Desmond-Hellmann was president of product development at drugmaker Genentech Inc., the South San Francisco, California-based unit of Roche Holding AG.

“Sue’s background in public health policy, research and development and higher education make her an exceptional fit for this role,” said Bill Gates, chairman and cofounder of Microsoft Corp., who started the foundation with his wife in 1997. “She impressed us as an innovator and an outstanding leader and manager.”

The Gates Foundation, which is based in Seattle and had an endowment of $40.2 billion as of Sept. 30, has funded research and programs for some of the world’s biggest public health problems, including nutrition, infection and hunger. It also funds education and information technology projects in the U.S.