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Philanthropist Bill Gates talks public health, biotech, and the race for the White House

Bill Gates became one of the richest men in history after cofounding Microsoft. His impact on the world of personal computing cannot be understated.

But for more than 15 years, he has devoted himself to philanthropic work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is passionate about combating health inequities and diseases of poverty in developing countries. He has played a key role in wrestling polio to the verge of extinction; another major global health scourge, malaria, is in his sights.

Gates, 60, is arguably Harvard’s most famous dropout, but he was back in Boston on Thursday to speak at the opening session of the American Society of Microbiology’s annual scientific conference, Microbe.