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below: Sue Desmond-Hellmann visits a of
the Gates Foundation, Dhanmatia Devi, at her home in
Paliganj Block in Patna district, Bihar, India.
sky: Your job is so do you
explain it to someone sitting next to
you on a plane?
sue desmond-hellmann: Wow. I
explain my job as leading the
largest private foundation, and then
I might say that my job is to look
literally across the world at some of
the toughest and most important problems, the problems that
get in the way of people being able to
do their best work or thrive. In the
U.S., our focus is on education, both
Kindergarten through 12 and college.
Outside the U.S., our No. priority is
health, and we also focus on agriculture and nutrition, mobile money and
water sanitation and hygiene. What all
those things have in common is a very
intense focus on what some call an
antipoverty strategy. But really an
antipoverty, pro-opportunity strategy.
a lot to me. I think of a clinical scientist
as a problem-solving doctor. The two
roles that I had before coming to the
foundation were president of product
development at Genentech, the biotech company, and chancellor at the
University of California-San Francisco. Both of those roles were like the
role I have now as CEO: They allowed
me to try and set an environment for
really talented people to make a difference in the world. I went into medicine
because I wanted to help people feel
better. At the foundation, known
for our innovation, our partnerships,
our risk-taking. But, actually, underneath, really all about people and
their lives. I just hate suffering.
how a doctor comes to this job.
sky: All right. How does a doctor get
involved in all of this?
sky: At Genentech, you helped create
some important cancer
drugs. I think a lot of people would feel:
Cancer drugs, where my gift lies.
What made you think treating cancer
was not enough?
sdh: a good question. I think
a series of serendipitous events, but
most important is my medical training. I trained as an oncologist, a cancer
doctor. also what you would call a
clinical scientist, and that title means
sdh: I say it enough.
One thing that makes a great day for
fact, it just happened to me
last met a breast cancer survivor. I said, an oncologist and
worked on product and
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