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Statements on Alan Magill, Malaria Program Director

“It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Alan Magill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday in Seattle.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

SEATTLE (September 20, 2015)

Statement by Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO and Trevor Mundel, President of the Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Alan Magill speaks at a World Malaria Day event in Livingstone, Zambia on April 25, 2015.

“It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Alan Magill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday in Seattle.

Alan was an extraordinary leader in the global fight against malaria, as well as a friend, colleague, and mentor to many of you.

We all knew Alan to be passionate, super smart and deliberate, but he was also considerate, good humored and above all humble.  He knew just how hard the task of ending malaria would be - but he also believed that every child deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life.  He was convinced that no challenge is equal to the power of the human spirit.

In his three years as Director of the Malaria Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Alan challenged his team to transform the vision of a malaria-free world into a reality. His death is a terrible loss, but we’re confident that his incredible moral and intellectual example will inspire others to work even harder to get the job done.

Alan was a career military officer prior to joining the foundation, and he carried on the proud military tradition of entrusting each member of his team with a challenge coin. The challenge that he inscribed on that coin – Malaria Delenda Est (Malaria Must Be Defeated) – is not an easy one, and it will not be achieved without decades of hard work. The biggest tribute we can pay is to embrace his mission.”

Statement by Bill and Melinda Gates, Co-Chairs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“The scientific community has lost an amazing leader, and our foundation has lost a treasured friend and colleague.

Although Alan led our foundation’s work on malaria, his influence went far beyond any single disease. He had a rare gift for bringing people together and helping them work toward a common goal. He also combined a deep knowledge of science with a hard-earned understanding of what happens out in the field. He knew that insights gained in the laboratory only matter if they improve people’s lives.

For the two of us, Alan was a wonderful teacher. He was gentle and easygoing, and he had a delightful sense of humor. We saw his tenderness shine through whenever we had the privilege of traveling with him to developing countries. He recognized the dignity in every person he met. His caring and love for others were undeniable. 

Most importantly, Alan never gave up on the idea that humanity can wipe out terrible diseases. His optimism was contagious, to us and everyone else who was lucky enough to know him. When we talk about the kinds of leaders we want at the foundation, we simply say: We want more people like Alan Magill.

We will miss Alan’s passion, his intellect, and his guidance. His work will continue through the strategies he set in motion. In the future, people will look back on what he did over the past few years and see it as the basis for eradicating malaria. Alan’s legacy is simple but profound: He saved lives.

Our thoughts are with his family and many friends around the world.”

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.


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