Three years ago, the global healthcare sector was rocked by COVID-19, and healthcare professionals looked to their leaders for direction.
While Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus oversaw the World Health Organization and Soumya Swaminathan addressed pressing healthcare issues, Albert Bourla was pushing the boundaries of science at Pfizer, Paul Stoffels' enhanced care quality and Stéphane Bancel developed innovative healthcare solutions in Moderna.
Bill Gates has continued to tackle poverty, while Anna Believantseva is utilising AI to build robotic limbs at Esper Bionics, and Laura Esserman is making groundbreaking progress in cancer advocacy. Meanwhile, consultant paediatrician and TV presenter Ravi Jayaram's exposed an horrendous crime and the work of American neurosurgeon and former American footballer, Myron Rolle, inspires children worldwide.
Read on to learn more about our Top 10 healthcare leaders.
Director-General of the World Health Organization
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has worked into the healthcare sector since 2005, in roles at The Global Fund and across the Government of Ethiopia, before starting the role as Director-General in 2017.
Tedros has praised the global healthcare industry for its dedication to defeat COVID-19, from administering more than 8.5bn vaccine doses and developing new treatments to lower mortality.
“With all these learnings and capacities, the opportunity to turn this pandemic around for good is in our grasp.”
CEO of Pfizer
Pfizer is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in New York which is consistently pursuing scientific breakthroughs to create a healthier planet. CEO Dr Albert Bourla started out studying Veterinary Medicine and holds a PhD degree in the Biotechnology of Reproduction. He has worked across many senior level positions, from vaccines to oncology and even animal health. Dr Bourla was appointed as Pfizer’s new Chief Operating Officer, in January 2018 and is also a member of the Pfizer Foundation and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.
CEO of Moderna
Biotechnology company Moderna is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was founded in 2010, with Stéphane Bancel becoming the founding CEO. He is also a member of Moderna’s board of directors. Prior to this, Bancel earned a Master of Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Centrale Supélec and in 1995 he scored an MBA at Harvard Business School.
7. Bill Gates
Co-founder of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill Gates is an advocate for healthcare innovation and sustainable solutions. After studying maths and computer science at Harvard University, Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and is now the fifth-richest person alive.
Later in 2000, the then-husband and wife duo created the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to combat poverty, disease and inequity, wherever it is. The organisation aims to ‘create a world where every person has the chance to live a healthy, productive life’.
Dr Myron Rolle Neurosurgery Resident at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr Myron Rolle is a Neurosurgery Resident at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 2008, he began studying Exercise Science at Florida State University, followed by Medical Anthropology at the University of Oxford. From 2010-2012, Rolle played in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. He founded The Myron L. Rolle Foundation, a tax-exempt, non-profit organisation which supports various health-related charitable initiatives across the world which benefit families in need and has written a book to encourage others to persevere.
Paul Stoffels CEO and Chairman, Galapagos
Paul Stoffels studied medicine at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and then Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at the Institute of Tropical Medicine. He worked as a physician in Africa, focusing on HIV and then spent 13 years in pharmaceutical research at Johnson & Johnson. Stoffels is now the CEO of biopharmaceutical company Galapagos, which commercialises innovative medicine. In this role, Stoffels pioneers and develops transformational healthcare solutions, to ‘help people live longer and better lives’.
Co-Founder and COO at Esper Bionics
Human augmentation startup Esper Bionics builds robotic limbs and controllers for people who need them, by utilising AI and IoT. Co-Founder and COO Believantseva could see the potential of these technologies. Esper Hand collects data supplied by users about every grip they make. Mathematical and machine learning algorithms process this data to build new control algorithms for each specific hand.
“I believe that electronic implants will help billions of people live more fulfilling and longer lives,” said Believantseva.
Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization
Soumya Swaminathan is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and started working for the World Health Organization in 2017 as Deputy Director-General for Programme. She was then promoted to Chief Scientist in 2019, in time for the organisation’s biggest challenge when COVID-19 hit that year.
While women only account for only 30% of researchers in science, Swaminathan leads WHO’s Science Division, where she makes sure that the organisation utilises the latest developments in science and innovation to advance global healthcare.
Dr Ravi Jayaram is well-trained in paediatrics, particularly in treating asthma and cystic fibrosis. In 2015, he co-presented a television programme ‘Born Naughty?’ which explored child behavioural problems and is a contributor to the BBC Asian Network, where he offers parents support and advice as a child health guru.
While Dr Jayaram has always been dedicated to ensuring the safety of his smallest and most vulnerable hospital patients, he was never expecting to be thrust into a murder investigation.
After noticing a correlation between unexplained baby-deaths on his ward and odd behaviour from one particular nurse, Jayaram presented his concerns to hospital management. He was ignored and ordered to apologise to the colleague, who was eventually found guilty of murdering seven newborns. Dr Ravi was integral to helping catch child killer Lucy Letby and ensuring change is made in the NHS to protect whistleblowers.
“I’m not a hero, I was just doing my job”, said the self-described ‘tryathlete’.
Principal Investigator at The WISDOM Study
Laura Esserman is the Principal Investigator at The WISDOM Study, a breast cancer screening and prevention trial, where she is pushing for positive change in the delivery of breast cancer services.
Esserman studied History of Science at Harvard University and later became a Doctor at Stanford University.
Esserman opened the University of California-wide breast cancer initiative called the Athena Breast Health Network, is the Principal Investigator of the I-SPY TRIAL program and was a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Working Group on Advancing Innovation in Drug Development and Evaluation.
Now, she is a practising surgeon and Professor of Surgery and Radiology at UCSF, where she has been the Director since 1996. Bioinformatics, clinical care delivery, medical and clinical informatics and systems integration are at the core of her research.
In October 2016, TIME Magazine honoured Esserman with a spot in its ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in the World’.