Internationally known for her pivotal work on developing paclitaxel and cancer diagnostics, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann pioneered personalized treatments for cancer patients. She played a key role in developing the monoclonal antibodies, bevacizumab (anti-VEGF-A) and trastuzumab (anti-HER2/neu), two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer.
During her time at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pharmaceutical Research Institute, she served as the project team leader for the tubulin-targeted chemotherapeutic, paclitaxel, which is effective against a variety of cancers, including breast, non-small cell lung, and pancreatic cancer. During her tenure at Genentech, she led in developing a wide range of molecularly targeted cancer therapeutics including erlotinib (EGFR inhibitor), ranibizumab (anti-VEGF-A), and rituximab (anti-CD20) that have revolutionized the field.
At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) she continued to promote the concept of “precision medicine” and worked to establish comprehensive data networks capable of integrating basic, translational, and clinical research information to better develop novel cancer diagnostics and personalized therapies. In 2014, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann resigned her Chancellor position at UCSF to join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she leads the foundation's efforts to promote equity for all people around the world, sets strategic priorities, monitors results, and facilitates relationships with key partners.
2013 Board of Directors, Facebook, Inc.
2012-2014 Elected Trustee, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
2012 Distinguished Citizen Award, Commonwealth Club of California
2010 Board of Directors, Procter & Gamble Company
2010 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2010 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2009 Biotechnology Lifetime Achievement Award, BayBio
2009 “Powerful Innovator” Designation, Forbes Magazine
2007 Biotech Hall of Fame
2006 “Woman of the Year” Designation, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
2005-2008 Board of Directors, AACR
2005 “50 Women to Watch” Designation, Wall Street Journal
2001, 2003-2008 “50 Most Powerful Women” Designation, Fortune Magazine
1988 MPH, University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health
1982 MD, University of Nevada