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R. Sanders Williams is the President Emeritus of Gladstone Institutes, a non-profit biomedical research enterprise, having served in this position since 2018, and was the Chief Executive Officer of Gladstone Foundation, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Gladstone Institutes during 2018. Dr. Williams has served as Professor of Medicine at Duke University since 2018 and, beginning in January 2021, is acting as Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation. He has been a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco since 2010. Dr. Williams was both President of Gladstone Institutes and its Robert W. and Linda L. Mahley Distinguished Professor of Medicine, from 2010 to 2017. Prior to this, Dr. Williams served as Senior Vice Chancellor of the Duke University School of Medicine from 2008 to 2010 and Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine from 2001 to 2008. He was the founding Dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, from 2003 to 2008 and served on its Governing Board from 2003 to 2010. From 1990 to 2001, Dr. Williams was Chief of Cardiology and Director of the Ryburn Center for Molecular Cardiology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Williams has been a director of the Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, a diagnostic technologies company, since 2007, serving on the Audit Committee and chairing the Quality and Compliance Committee. Dr. Williams was a director of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, a pharmaceutical company, from 2006 until 2013. Dr. Williams has served on the board of directors of the Gladstone Foundation, a non-profit institution that is distinct from Gladstone Institutes, since 2012. Dr. Williams was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2002. Dr. Williams received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his doctorate from Duke University.