October 12, 2016 | The Editors

PATH’s cofounder, Gordon Duncan, leaves a legacy for global health

PATH, our board of directors, and our employees around the world mourn the passing of our visionary cofounder and first executive director.
Gordon Duncan (right) with PATH cofounders Rich Mahoney (left) and Gordon Perkin.
Gordon Duncan (right) with PATH cofounders Rich Mahoney (left) and Gordon Perkin. Photo: PATH.

Nearly 40 years ago, Gordon launched PATH (then called PIACT, for the Program for the Introduction and Adaptation of Contraceptive Technology) with Rich Mahoney and Gordon Perkin. All three had extensive experience in international family planning and founded the organization to help meet the need for contraceptive technologies in the developing world. They shared the belief—new at the time—that bringing the public and private sectors together was necessary for long-lasting impact. By doing just that, they introduced a powerful new model to global health.

Prior to his time at PATH, Gordon worked at Battelle Memorial Institute and the Upjohn Company, where he was a vice president and executive director involved with drug discovery, drug development, and clinical development efforts. In an interview last year, Gordon spoke about the multidisciplinary approach he helped launch at PATH: “My background was always, ‘We can work hand in hand in this. In fact, both will prosper if they work collaboratively together.’”

Gordon’s belief in women’s rights inspired his work in reproductive health. He was committed to easing—and saving—the lives of women who live in poverty.

He was a deeply compassionate man. One of PATH’s founding principles, he said, was to “care for the other individual. You’ve got to be out there doing good for a person and doing good in a sustainable manner.”

Gordon’s distinguished 40-year career included serving in senior roles at numerous companies, including five emerging biopharmaceutical companies. He successfully developed and introduced a number of reproductive health products, including an injectable female contraceptive and “Plan B,” the emergency contraceptive.

“All of us at PATH extend our deepest condolences to Gordon’s family, friends, and colleagues at the many organizations he served,” said Steve Davis, PATH’s president and CEO. “We are extremely grateful for his contributions to PATH and global health, and will continue his legacy of collaboration, scientific rigor, and care.”

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