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There have been two important new announcements of key figures in global health.
First, Larry Brilliant has been appointed to lead the philanthropic arm of Google, called Google.org. Dr. Brilliant's career combines extensive experience in the areas of nonprofit public health and private-sector technology. He helped direct efforts to eradicate smallpox from India in the 1970s, and after the Sept. 11 attacks, served as a bioterrorism consultant to the U.S.'s Centers for Disease Control. He was also chief executive of Cometa Networks, a wireless joint venture of Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and AT&T Inc. that dissolved in 2003.
At the time of the IPO, Google pledged 1% of its annual profit and 1% of its stock, currently valued at around $1 billion, to Google.org. The Google Foundation was granted $90 million and additional $900 million in stock was set aside for Google.org. But a little-noticed sentence in Google's fourth quarter financial press release made it clear that Google does not intend to increase its current funding. "Google does not expect to make further donations to the Google Foundation for the foreseeable future."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced earlier this month that Dr. Tadataka (Tachi) Yamada would take over from Rick Klausner as executive director of the foundation’s Global Health program. Dr. Yamada, currently Chairman of Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), will start work at the foundation in June. Prior to GSK, Dr. Yamada held several senior positions at SmithKline Beecham over five years, including chairman of R&D. He was previously chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine.
Hat tip: PSD blog
Owen comments: Google's decision to appoint a public health expert to head Google.org raises an interesting question about the focus of the foundation's work. Google is head to head with with Microsoft on the desktop, and now it seems they will be competing with the Gates Foundation, and many philanthropic donors, in the field of global health. Will global health benefit from the competition, or will it lead to unnecessary duplication?

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.