By Kate Kelland
(Reuters) – The multi-billion dollar philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Thursday that its chief executive officer, Sue Desmond-Hellman, is to step down after more than five years, to be replaced by Mark Suzman.
Desmond-Hellman, who until October was also on the board of the social networking company Facebook Inc (O:), said she was stepping down from the Gates Foundation as of February 2020 to be able to “care properly for myself and my family.”
Desmond-Hellman was previously Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, the first woman to hold that position, and had worked at the pharmaceutical firm Genentech – now owned by Roche (S:) – where she helped develop some of the first gene-targeted cancer drugs, Avastin and Herceptin.
“This was without a doubt the toughest decision of my career. But… one of my mantras is: take your own pulse first. Over the last few weeks and months, I have done just that and concluded that I need to slow down,” Hellman said in a letter to Foundation employees, a copy of which was shared with Reuters.
The Gates Foundation, led by the former Microsoft (O:) co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, is one of the world’s largest funders of global health programs to combat disease and poverty. It has around $50 billion in assets.
Desmond-Hellman’s successor, Mark Suzman, joined the Gates Foundation in 2007 and is currently its chief strategy officer.
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