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Melanie Walker  

Deputy Director, Special Initiatives, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA

Dr. Melanie Walker is Deputy Director for Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she and her team manage a portfolio of high-risk, experimental, and learning projects across a range of issues.

She joined the Foundation as a Senior Program Officer in 2006 from her previous role at the World Health Organization in China. Prior to this time, she spent more than a decade sharpening her skills across the fields of both health and development, emanating from on-the-ground experiences as a practitioner in low-income settings.

In addition to her role at the Foundation, she is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine maintains a hospital-based practice at Harborview Medical Center.

Dr. Walker graduated summa cum laude from the honors program at the University of Texas in Austin. After completing a Robert Wood Johnson Pre-Medical Scholarship at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, she returned to her home state to matriculate at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where she was awarded a medical doctorate with an honors thesis outlining a novel statistical methodology for analysis of functional MRI.

Dr. Walker went on to complete post-doctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology concurrent with postgraduate surgical training at the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California. She also completed a neurology residency and cerebrovascular disease fellowship at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Palliative Care Practice Program at Harvard Medical School, where she was named a faculty scholar.

She has published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature and frequently lectures on topics related to her clinical interests. She was recently awarded the Hoffman Endowed Lectureship by the American Academy of Pediatric Neurosurgery and named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

She is also, to a five-sigma level of certainty, the world’s worst cook.


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