The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been renowned for its dedication to public health and vaccine research; now it has added more talent to its roster with new heads for two of its three main programs. Christopher Elias, longtime head of Seattle-based nonprofit PATH, has been appointed as the foundation's new president of its global development program. In addition, Trevor Mundel, global head of development at Novartis ($NVS), will lead the foundation's global health program.
While global health will continue to focus on tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia and malaria, the foundation's vaccine delivery and family health focuses will shift under Elias' jurisdiction rather than Mundel's. "The key thing is to tap into the expertise of two terrific leaders," said Jeff Raikes, the Gates Foundation's chief executive, to The Seattle Times. "I told the employees this morning: We're not organizing around product development vs. implementation." The foundation hopes that Elias' leadership and experience will help drive the group to deliver the remedies it funds to the people who need them.
PATH won many Gates Foundation awards during Elias' decade-long tenure and developed a low-cost meningitis vaccine and other improvements to malaria and diarrheal disease prevention. "We know from some of our work at PATH that in fragile economic environments, one of the things that pushes people into poverty the most is disease," Elias said, as quoted by the Times. "Poor health causes poor economic development, and poor economic development leads to poor health. These are highly interlinked things."