Leadership Council

Bill Rutter

Council Co-Chair
Chairman of Synergenics

Bill Rutter is Chairman and founder of Synergenics, LLC, which owns/controls a portfolio of biotechnology companies at various stages of development. Synergenics provides financing and senior executive, legal, business development, scientific and operational resources to its portfolio companies. The companies benefit from a collaborative environment, shared access to laboratories and other physical resources, and cross-licensing of technologies. R&D is carried out by a combination of in-house, and external services. The programs are monitored by “Science Partners”, a group of individuals with distinguished careers in science, biotechnology, and Pharma, who participate directly in all phases of development. Synergenics provides a novel business model for commercialization of innovative technologies/products from the concept stage to commercial reality, which is usually achieved via licensing or partnerships.

Bill, with two colleagues, founded Chiron Corporation in 1981, a pioneering biotech firm that developed the first recombinant vaccine (for Hepatitis B), the first sequencing of the HIV genome in 1984, and the discovery, cloning, and sequencing of the Hepatitis C virus (1987). Chiron also developed quantitative diagnostic tests for determination of “viral load,” a new concept that opened the way for development of therapeutic drugs and vaccines against these viruses. In 1995, the Swiss Pharma company Ciba-Geigy acquired 49% of Chiron in a transformative transaction. Subsequently, Sandoz merged with Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis. Rutter joined the Novartis Board of Directors, and remained with Chiron until 1998. Novartis purchased the remaining portion of Chiron in 2005.

Bill played a key role in developing UCSF into a major scientific institution. He joined UCSF as head of its new department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1968, and helped build the science enterprise during the period of major developments in recombinant DNA technology, based on discoveries of colleague Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen of Stanford. After the formation of Chiron, Bill became director of UCSF’s Hormone Research Institute, a post retained until 1989, when he joined Chiron full time. Bill has published more than 380 scientific articles and holds over 25 patents. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received numerous awards for his contributions to science and the biotechnology industry.

Harvey Fineberg

President of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Harvey V. Fineberg is the president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, improvements in patient care and preservation of the special character of the San Francisco Bay Area. He previously held the Presidential Chair for 2014-2015 as visiting professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to that, he served as president of the Institute of Medicine from 2002 to 2014 and as provost of Harvard University from 1997 to 2001, following 13 years as dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

He has devoted most of his academic career to the fields of health policy and medical decision-making. His past research has focused on the process of policy development and implementation, assessment of medical technology, evaluation and use of vaccines, and dissemination of medical innovations.

Fineberg chairs the board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and serves on the boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the China Medical Board. He helped found and served as president of the Society for Medical Decision Making and also served as consultant to the World Health Organization. Fineberg is co-author of the books Clinical Decision Analysis, Innovators in Physician Education and The Epidemic That Never Was, an analysis of the controversial federal immunization program against swine flu in 1976. He has co-edited several books on such diverse topics as AIDS prevention, vaccine safety, understanding risk in society and global health. He has also authored numerous articles published in professional journals.

Fineberg is the recipient of several honorary degrees—the Frank A. Calderone Prize in Public Health, the Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research and the Harvard Medal, awarded by the alumni association of the university from which he earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees.

Colin Boyle

Lecturer at University of California Haas School of Business

Colin Boyle is currently a member of the professional faculty at the Haas School of Business at the University of California in the Center for Social Sector Leadership, where he teaches graduate-level courses on management, strategy, and impact measurement in social sector organizations. As a teacher, Colin seeks to provide students with a pragmatic and clear-eyed understanding of leadership challenges facing social sector leaders, while also stressing the importance of personal values, close stakeholder engagement, and optimism about the potential for charities, social ventures, and philanthropy to change the world for the better.

From 2012 to 2020, Colin served as the Deputy Director for the Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS), where he worked with Executive Director, Jaime Sepulveda. and other Institute leaders to develop and implement a strategy for growth and impact. During Colin’s time at IGHS, revenues for the organization more than tripled, and IGHS was able to expand its reach into several new areas of research, including: maternal and child health, neglected infectious diseases, TB, global cancer, and global mental health, among others. During this time, the Institute also launched a new PhD program to complement its leading Masters degree program. In his role as Deputy Director, Colin was responsible for Institute operations, including finance, HR, international operations, and space planning – including the Institute’s move into Mission Hall. He was directly involved in multiple research projects, which included serving as modeling lead for the 2013 Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, managing major programs related to neglected infectious diseases and pre-term birth, and serving as principal investigator on several sponsored research projects addressing the role of private sector organizations in global health.

Prior to joining UCSF in 2012, Colin was a Partner and Managing Director with The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco for 15 years, where he focused on clients in the health care sector and in philanthropy. Colin is a Board Member for the Bay Area Global Health Alliance and for the Oakland Museum of California.

Haile T. Debas

Founding Executive Director, UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences

Haile T. Debas, MD is recognized internationally for his contributions to academic medicine and is widely consulted on issues associated with global health. His career as a physician, researcher, professor, and academic leader spans five decades in Canada and the United States. At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), he served as Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Dean of the School of Medicine, Chair of the Department of Surgery, and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Global Health Sciences. He is the Maurice Galante Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Emeritus at UCSF and Director Emeritus of the University of California Global Health Institute.

A native of Eritrea, Dr. Debas received his MD from McGill University and completed his surgical training at the University of British Columbia. He has served on the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Debas is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University, has served on the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and was Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

Professor Sir Richard Feachem

KBE, PhD, DSc(Med), FREng, HonFFPH, HonDEng, HonMD

Professor Sir Richard Feachem is Director of the Global Health Group at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Institute for Global Health Sciences and Professor of Global Health at both UCSF and the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a Visiting Professor at London University and an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland.

From 2002 to 2007, Sir Richard served as founding Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Under Secretary General of the United Nations. From 1995 until 1999, Dr. Feachem was Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank. Previously (1989-1995), he was Dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Feachem served as Chairman of the Foundation Council of the Global Forum for Health Research; Treasurer of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; Council Member of Voluntary Service Overseas; and on numerous other boards and committees. Professor Feachem serves as Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication. He has also served on the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, the Commission on HIV and Governance in Africa, the Commission on Investing in Health, and numerous other boards and committees. He has published extensively on epidemiology, public health and health policy.

Professor Feachem holds a Doctor of Science in Medicine from the University of London, and a PhD in Environmental Health from the University of New South Wales. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering by the University of Birmingham and an Honorary Doctorate in Medicine by the University of Queensland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians and of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and a member of the US National Academy of Medicine. Among other honors, Sir Richard was awarded the Sir Frank Whittle Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Richard T. Hewitt Award by the Royal Society of Medicine. Sir Richard was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2007.

Sandra Hernandez

President and CEO California Health Care Foundation

Sandra R. Hernández, MD, is president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation. Prior to joining CHCF, Sandra was CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, which she led for 16 years. She previously served as director of public health for the City and County of San Francisco. She also cochaired San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Council, which designed Healthy San Francisco. It was the first time a local government in the US attempted to provide health care for all of its constituents.

In February 2018, Sandra was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Covered California board of directors. She also serves on the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Advisory Council at UC Davis and on the UC Regents Health Services Committee. Sandra is an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF School of Medicine. She practiced at San Francisco General Hospital in the HIV/AIDS Clinic from 1984 to 2016.

Sandra is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

Jeff Hessekiel

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Exelixis Corp.

Jeffrey J. Hessekiel, J.D., is Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Exelixis. In this role since February 2014, Mr. Hessekiel’s responsibilities include helping colleagues across Exelixis successfully navigate the complex legal and regulatory landscape as they work to create medicines that improve the lives of patients living with cancer, as well as protecting Exelixis and advancing its interests as consistent with Exelixis’ Code of Conduct.

Prior to joining Exelixis, Mr. Hessekiel was Senior Counsel at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, where he advised emerging growth and public companies, primarily in the life sciences sector, on complex legal issues connected with strategic transactions, healthcare compliance programs and investigations, and regulatory matters. Previously, from 2002 to 2012, he held key legal and compliance roles at Gilead Sciences, Inc., rising to the positions of Vice President, Commercial Legal Affairs and Litigation, and later Chief Compliance and Quality Officer, where he was responsible for the creation and management of Gilead’s Corporate Compliance & Quality department.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Hessekiel trained in the litigation and corporate practice groups at a number of Silicon Valley law firms. He also worked for several international non-governmental organizations. Mr. Hessekiel holds a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and is admitted to practice in California and he holds a B.A. in Political Science from Duke University.

Wendy Holcombe

Radio Producer and Philanthropist

Wendy Holcombe is a producer for City Visions, a public affairs show on Bay Area NPR-affiliate 91.7 KALW. She is on the board of San Francisco Day School and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Additionally, she is an advocate for criminal justice reforms and is an active supporter of the Criminal Justice and Health Program at UCSF.

Nasi Jazayeri

Chief Technology and Product Officer, Salesforce.org

Nasi and his extended team are responsible for Salesforce.org’s global product vision, design and development, and go-to-market strategy.

Nasi Jazayeri is a 30-year industry veteran with extensive experience across CRM, Social Applications, and Business Intelligence. He has developed, taken to market, and significantly grown revenues of large-scale, high performance enterprise software products. His proven track record in developing initial stage products at Salesforce and helping build them into billion-dollar businesses includes his work with Service Cloud and Sales Cloud. In addition, he developed the Community Cloud go-to-market strategy, building a hundreds-of-million dollar business in less than three years.

Sanford (Sandy) Robertson

Co-Founder and Partner emeritus, Francisco Partners

Prior to founding Francisco Partners in 1999, Sandy was the founder and Chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Company, a leading technology investment bank which was formed in 1978 and sold to BankAmerica in 1998. Since the sale, he has been an active technology investor and advisor to several technology companies. Sandy was also the founder of Robertson, Coleman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank.

Sandy received an M.B.A. and a B.A, both with Distinction, from the University of Michigan. He serves on the board of directors of JustAnswer, Pain Therapeutics (PTIE) and salesforce.com.

Ariel D. Stern

Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Ariel Dora Stern is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School. She co-teaches Transforming Health Care Delivery in the MBA elective curriculum.

Ariel's research focuses on the management of innovation in health care, with a focus on the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Her projects seek to understand the drivers of innovation among firms and the determinants of how medical technologies are adopted and used in practice. Ariel is particularly interested in the intersection of the regulation, firm strategy, and economics of health care. She also researches the digital transformation of medical technology and health care delivery, investigating the policy and managerial questions raised by the growth of “digital health.” Her research has been cited by Bloomberg, The New York Times, and National Public Radio.

Mickey Urdea

Founder and Partner Halteres Associates

Dr. Urdea is Founder and Partner for Halteres Associates, a biotechnology-consulting firm based in Emeryville. He also founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Tethys Bioscience, a proteomics-based diagnostics company involved in the prevention of type-2 diabetes, and was CEO of Quantum Dots Corporation. Dr. Urdea is a founder and Chairman of Catalysis Foundation for Health (CFH), a non-profit addressing gaps in global health caused by inefficiencies in disease diagnosis and monitoring; CFH is developing biomarkers for TB bacterial load with a grant from the Gates Foundation. Dr. Urdea serves as a consultant to the life sciences industry and is on the scientific advisory boards and boards of directors of biotechnology and diagnostics companies.

Early in his career, Dr. Urdea founded the Nucleic Acid Diagnostics business at Chiron, where he pioneered viral load assays for the human hepatitis B, hepatitis C and immunodeficiency viruses; his team introduced the first commercial viral load assays for all three viruses. Dr. Urdea also headed the Oncology Diagnostics business unit at Chiron. He then became SVP of the Molecular Diagnostics group and Chief Scientific Officer at Bayer Diagnostics. Dr. Urdea is an author of over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has more than 125 issued and pending patents. In 2015, Dr. Urdea received a UCSF 150th Anniversary Alumni Excellence Award.

Diede van Lamoen

Company Founder and Start-Up Investor

Diede is the Chief Executive Officer at Commure, a company focused on developing tools to help doctors provide better care to patients. He has previously founded companies and led organizations in the technology industry.

Phyllis Whiteley

Venture Partner, Playground Global

Phyllis Whiteley, PhD., is a Venture Partner with Playground Global where she provides hands-on leadership in building, investing, and creating companies in all areas of Healthcare where technology can improve access to healthcare, the patient experience, and improved quality and speed while reducing costs. Playground Global is a deep tech investor where we leverage our vision and deep understanding of technology to help build companies that will have multi-generational impact. Phyllis’ career is founded on her passion for personalized medicine, global healthcare, and transformative life science innovations. She has founded and built multiple companies in the United States and abroad.

Her executive expertise includes strategic planning, financing, partnerships, restructuring, building executive teams and M&A. Prior to joining Playground Global, Phyllis spent over a decade at Wildcat Venture Partners and Mohr Davidow Ventures, leading to numerous successful exists. She was an Officer and Senior Vice President, Business Development, Licensing, and Alliance Management at Perlegen Sciences, Inc. Before joining Perlegen, she served as Vice President, Strategic Portfolio Management for Roche. Over her ten-year career with Roche she held various positions in Business Development based in Basel, Switzerland coupled with R&D leadership positions in the US. Phyllis also held a Senior Research Immunology role with Merck. Phyllis is a member of the Board of Directors for Lassogen Therapeutics, BodyPort (observer), Alydia Health, a medical device company treating Post Partum Hemorrhage around the world and Nalu Bio.

Phyllis is dedicated to helping social entrepreneurs address the problems of poverty, empower women, and build resilience to climate change. She currently sits on the boards of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (Emeritus), UCSF Leadership Council for Global Health, University of Michigan School of Nursing Board for Science and Innovation and chairs the advisory board for the University of Texas Horizon Fund. Phyllis is also Global Social Benefits Mentor at Santa Clara University.

Phyllis holds a BA in Chemistry and PhD. in Pharmacology from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.