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Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer to Deliver Keynote Address at Georgia State Commencement

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will call on the Class of 2016 to stretch the limits of human possibility in her keynote address at Georgia State University’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.

Drawing on her rich experience as a scientist, physician and executive, Desmond-Hellmann leads the Gates Foundation’s efforts 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 in the developing world, to transform their lives. In the U.S., the foundation’s work in education focuses on enabling everyone – especially those with the fewest resources – to be able to succeed in school and life. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest foundation, is committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.

“We are delighted to have Sue join us for this very important day in the life of our university, our graduates and their families,” said Georgia State President Mark P. Becker. “She and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been vital supporters and proponents of our university’s nationally recognized, ground-breaking programs to help students from all backgrounds achieve success.”

Before joining the foundation in 2014, Desmond-Hellmann was the first female chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where she oversaw all aspects of the university’s professional and graduate schools, medical center and research programs.

Trained as an oncologist, Desmond-Hellmann spent 14 years at biotech firm Genentech, serving in a number of roles including president of product development. While at Genentech she led research and development and helped shepherd a number of breakthrough cancer medicines to the marketplace. In 2009, Forbes named her one of the world’s seven most “powerful innovators,” calling her “a hero to legions of cancer patients.”

In March 2013, she was appointed to the Board of Directors at Facebook Inc., and has served on the Board of Directors of the Procter & Gamble Company since 2010.

Desmond-Hellmann completed her undergraduate education and medical studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, followed by clinical training at UCSF, where she was an associate adjunct professor of epidemiology and biostatistics. She is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology and holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

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