Tadataka Yamada Offers Lessons From Global Health

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, (left) with Tadataka Yamada, MD, and CTSI's June Lee, MD.

Offering insights gained from a long career in academia, industry and global health, Tadataka Yamada, MD, Executive Vice President of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, joined UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and other leaders in academia and industry for a special event held on Friday, February 8, 2013, at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

The event was sponsored by UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), and kicked off a day of presentations by finalists for CTSI’s Catalyst Awards, an innovative program to accelerate the development of devices, diagnostics, therapeutics and digital health technologies.

“Dr. Yamada’s inspiring talk was a great way to start off a day defined by innovative science and industry-academic partnerships,” said June Lee, MD, Director of CTSI’s Catalyst program.

Highlights of Dr. Yamada’s presentation included personal stories from his travels as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program, as well as insights into what he identified as four primary lessons from his varied experience.

Dr. Yamada’s inspiring talk was a great way to start off a day defined by innovative science and industry-academic partnerships.
June Lee, MD

First, he noted the urgency around his work, and an understanding that “every day counts.” Following a trip to Africa with Bill and Melinda Gates, Dr. Yamada said he “gained a sense of urgency that he never had before.” He also commented that organizations such as CTSI act as “a vehicle for urgency in an academic medical center.”

Second, was a focus on innovation, which he acknowledged “means different things to different people.” He discussed the difference in evolutionary and revolutionary innovation, and said that because we’re afraid to take risks, it’s important to cultivate an ecosystem that is willing to challenge dogma.

Third, he highlighted the need to measure impact and the importance of knowing if and how global health efforts are impacting health.

Lastly, he spoke about the value of partnerships, noting that “partnerships get things done.”

Watch a video of Dr. Yamada’s presentation

In addition to serving as an executive vice-president at Takeda, Dr. Yamada is also chief medical and scientific officer. Since joining Takeda in 2011, he has been leading the company’s R&D efforts to improve health in both the developed and developing world. In his prior role as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program, he oversaw the Foundation’s $9+ billion grants budget directed at addressing the health challenges of the developing world, including TB, HIV, malaria and other infectious diseases, malnutrition and maternal and child health. These roles, as well as his previous positions in industry and academia, provide him with a unique perspective on the challenges of global health and the ways to address the issues.

Other Takeda executives visiting UCSF included Rajeev Venkayya, MD, Executive Vice President and Head, Vaccine Business; Jamie Dananberg, MD, Executive Vice President, Therapeutic Areas; Nancy Joseph-Ridge, MD, Head, Pharmaceutical Development; Juan Harrison, Vice President, Business Innovation, New Frontier Science; and Sandy Macrae, PhD, MBChB, Global Medical Officer.

UCSF's CTSI is a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant Number UL1 TR000004) at the National Institutes of Health. Under the banner of "Accelerating Research to Improve Health," CTSI provides a wide range of resources and services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking tools such as UCSF Profiles.