Biodesign Directory Profile


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Michael Birt


The Biodesign Institute, Sustainable Health


Michael Birt, PhD, is Director of the Center for Sustainable Health and Interim Co-director at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute ( He is also Executive Director of the Pacific Health Summit ( as well as Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Prior to his current positions, Birt was Senior Vice President at The National Bureau of Asian Research ( and the founding director of NBR's Center for Health and Aging. He has extensive experience in the private sector and the academic world as well as non-profits. In his academic career, Birt was an assistant professor at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and Wellesley College. He has served as a visiting professor at Keio University under a faculty grant from the Japan Foundation and as a nominated recipient of a Ministry of Education faculty appointment at Hitotsubashi University. He received his PhD in East Asian Studies from Princeton University and is fluent in spoken and written Japanese. He also completed the Certificate Program in Gerontology at the University of Washington.

Birt's private sector experience includes the successful launch, development and stock sale of a leading U.S.-Asia biomedical business development company, a U.S.-registered corporation with offices in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. He also founded Infoplan Consulting, a division of McCann-Erickson Hakuhodo, a leading advertising and market research firm located in Tokyo. He has consulted for many of the world's leading healthcare, medical technology, and consumer product companies. He is co-author of Negotiating the Gray Maze: The Business of Medicine in Japan (1997) and has written articles for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, as well as numerous industry consulting reports. He recently authored "Chronic Neglect: Meet the Developing World's New Health Emergency—the Rich World's Diseases" in Foreign Policy (September/October 2006). Birt also personally funded and led the Pacific Health Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, which focused on the development of educational exchange and collaboration programs between U.S. and Japanese healthcare delivery systems in the field of hospital infection control.

Birt joined NBR in 2003 to launch the Center for Health and Aging. In 2004, he became the founding Executive Director of the Pacific Health Summit and worked closely with the Summit's founding co-chairs, George F. Russell, Jr. and William H. Gates, Sr., and former chair, Dr. Lee Hartwell, to make the Summit a premier event on the global health calendar. Alternating between Seattle, Washington and London, each June the Pacific Health Summit welcomes 250 top leaders from science, industry, and policy to discuss how to realize the dream of a healthier future through the effective utilization of scientific advances and industrial innovation combined with appropriate policies for prevention, early detection, and early treatment of disease. The Summit is co-presented by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and NBR, which serves as the Summit Secretariat.