The Ohio State University announces spring commencement speaker
Sue Desmond-Hellmann is CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Published on March 28, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will deliver The Ohio State University’s spring commencement address. Approximately 11,700 students will receive diplomas during the ceremony, which begins at noon on Sunday, May 6, at Ohio Stadium.
Desmond-Hellmann is a physician, scientist and philanthropist who has devoted her career to improving the human condition. As CEO of the Seattle, Washington-based Gates Foundation, Desmond-Hellman leads the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.
“It is an honor to welcome health care pioneer Sue Desmond-Hellmann to speak at Ohio State’s 418th commencement ceremony,” said President Michael V. Drake. “A scientist, leader, physician and philanthropist, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann has dedicated her life to tackling some of the most complex and challenging issues of our time. Her message will inspire and motivate our graduates as they begin the next chapter of their lives.”
At the Gates Foundation, Desmond-Hellmann works to create 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, 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. In November 2009, Forbes magazine named her one of the worlds seven most “powerful innovators,” calling her “a hero to legions of cancer patients.”
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.
Prior to joining the Gates Foundation in 2014, Desmond-Hellmann was the first female chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) overseeing all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy and operations. It was her second stint at UCSF; she completed her clinical training there in the 1980s.
Desmond-Hellmann earned her B.S. and M.D. degrees at the University of Nevada, and a master’s degree in public health at the University of California. She 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.
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