Leaders of Gates, Rockefeller
foundations on campus
On Tues., Dec. 5, leaders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
The Rockefeller Foundation and other major philanthropies visited
campus to take part in a meeting on "Philanthropy in a Global Century."
Sponsored by The Rockefeller University Council, the event focused
on infectious diseases and other problems that disproportionately
affect developing nations, and on how private philanthropy can make
Life Trustee David Rockefeller (at left), William H. Gates
Sr. (center) and David Rockefeller Jr. took part in The Rockefeller
University Council event "Philanthropy in a Global Century."
BELOW: Patty Stonesifer, co-chair and president of the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke with Gordon Conway, president
of The Rockefeller Foundation.
Speakers on the program included William H. Gates Sr., co-chair
and CEO of the foundation that was created by his son and daughter-in-law;
Gordon Conway, president of The Rockefeller Foundation; and David
Rockefeller, honorary chairman of the Rockefeller University Council,
as well as university scientists George A.M. Cross, David D. Ho
and John McKinney.
In his opening remarks for the evening's program, Rockefeller University
President Arnold J. Levine cited the university's history of combating
disease worldwide and noted that nearly a third of the university's
75 laboratories are working to find better ways to treat and prevent
David Rockefeller emphasized the importance of cooperation among
philanthropists, research institutions and government agencies,
drawing on an example from the university's early history, when
scientists at The Rockefeller Institute helped to ensure the purity
of New York City's milk supply.
"The same sequence of events can be seen over and over again in
American history," said Rockefeller. "A philanthropic institution
endowed by private American wealth collaborates with the public
sector to bring about positive social change. That was at the heart
of the Green Revolution initiated by The Rockefeller Foundation
in the 1950s."
Conway, an agricultural ecologist who has headed the 87-year-old
Rockefeller Foundation since 1998, discussed its current initiatives
and described the complexities that confront foundations working
in a worldwide arena.
The much newer Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving global
access to innovations in health and learning. Bill Gates Sr. spoke
in particular of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
GAVI is a collaboration among governments, groups like UNICEF, WHO
and the World Bank, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical
Manufacturers Association and foundations like the Rockefeller and
Gates foundations. Its aim is to raise money internationally for
life-saving vaccines, then buy those vaccines and deliver them to
children in the 74 poorest countries.
Gates said that "Taking our lead and our inspiration from work
already done by The Rockefeller Foundation, our foundation actually
started GAVI by pledging $750 million to something called the Global
Fund for Children's Vaccines, an instrument of GAVI."
He also praised the Rockefeller family's century of philanthropy,
saying, "It seems like every new corner we turn, the Rockefellers
are already there. And in some cases, they have been there for a
long, long time."
Following Gates's talk, three Rockefeller University scientists
gave progress reports about research on diseases for which truly
effective vaccines have not yet been found. Professor George Cross
discussed malaria and trypanosomiasis, Professor David Ho, scientific
director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center spoke about efforts
to develop vaccines and microbicides against HIV, and Assistant
Professor John McKinney provided an update on tuberculosis research.
The event concluded with a question and discussion period that
brought all of the program speakers together for a panel discussion
that included Patty Stonesifer, former senior vice president of
Microsoft Corporation who is now co-chair and president of the Gates
Last week's program attracted an audience of more than 220 Council
members and guests. The Rockefeller University Council is an international
advisory group of leaders in philanthropy, business and industry,
education, law, finance, and many other fields. Council members
help to increase public awareness of the importance of basic research
and the excellence of the university's scientific investigations.