History

The most important outcomes of the Summit are often unknown. They derive from the relationships developed year after year between world leaders with the vision, determination, and resources to solve major health problems. The solutions and collaborations develop in the hallways.

Lee Hartwell, Chief Scientist, Center for Sustainable Health,
Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University


In early 2004, Lee Hartwell, then President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, George F. Russell, Jr., then Chairman of The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), William H. Gates, Sr., Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Michael Birt, then Director of NBR's Center for Health and Aging, sketched out a vision for how emerging science and technology could link with global health policy to transform healthcare. They brainstormed on the need to prevent, detect, and treat illness early enough to drastically reduce the human and financial cost of disease, an intensely personal issue for each of them. Recognizing the lack of a forum that could truly bring all stakeholders, especially industry, to the same table, and believing strongly in conversation and direct dialogue as true catalysts for action, they conceived the initial plan to organize the Pacific Health Summit.

With that vision in mind, George Russell and Bill Gates, Sr., took on the combined role of co-chairs of the Summit's advisory group and provided the seed funding for the Summit.Michael Birt became the Executive Director of the Summit at NBR. He stepped down from his role as NBR's Center for Health and Aging Director in 2009, and from his role as Executive Director in 2012, handing the mantle to Claire Topal, Summit's Managing Director, who ran the Summit and managed that team from 2009-2012. She now serves as Senior Advisor for International Health to NBR.

Building on Bill Gates Sr.'s strong personal support, in 2007 Tachi Yamada, then President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, took on a decisive leadership role and formally established the Foundation as the Summit's third co-presenting organization.

In 2008, the Wellcome Trust joined the Summit as the fourth official co-presenting organization, and Trust Director, Sir Mark Walport, joined our Executive Committee. Both Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust, who has participated in the Summit since its first year, and Sir Mark provided crucial leadership as the Summit began its rotation in London for the annual meeting.

Lastly, Peter Neupert, then Corporate Vice President for Health Solutions Strategy for Microsoft, and Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer of Microsoft, have consistently provided a welcome private sector voice to the Summit's strategic discussions. Additionally, GE Healthcare, through Bill Castell in 2005, has always provided critical advice and perspective, as well as the critical founding sponsorship for the annual meeting.

Out of this initial foundation of leadership, the Summit grew into one of the world's premier global health gatherings every year.

In 2012, after the Summit’s second run in London, the leadership made a decision to end the annual meeting component of the Summit process.

Eight years after our inaugural meeting, which was never designed to take place in perpetuity, global health is in an exciting new place. Our interactive format has proliferated, and decision-makers across all sectors and geographies are collaborating on all the critical global health issues we sought to address: health technology, pandemic flu, MDR-TB, vaccines, malnutrition, maternal and newborn health, and many more. While we are proud of eight years of transformational conversations, countless new friendships, and exciting partnerships, there is still much work to do – and so much momentum on which to build.

This process means a great deal to us, and NBR is currently exploring how best to build on the Summit’s legacy through targeted, substantive programming that builds on Summit outcomes and past themes.


About the Logo


Our logo expresses the timelessness of the human hope for better health. The character chosen to represent the Pacific Health Summit, pronounced sheng in Chinese and ikiru in Japanese, means "life" or "to live." The character combines easily with other characters to build hopeful and strong compounds; similarly, we, too, hope the Pacific Health Summit will become a cornerstone upon which to build partnerships and collaborations.

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