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Dr. Brilliant to leave's helm

The executive director of Google's philanthropic unit is stepping down to become Google's chief philanthropy evangelist.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, the executive director of, is stepping down to become Google's chief philanthropy evangelist.

Brilliant, who had managed Google's philanthropic unit for the past three years, will be replaced by Megan Smith, who will also continue to act as Google's vice president of new business development.

Brilliant announced the move Monday in a company blog:

Dr. Larry Brilliant will become become Google's new chief philanthropy evangelist. Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

I think this is the highest contribution that I can make both to and to fighting the urgent threats of our day: from climate change to emerging infectious diseases, to issues of poverty and health care. By focusing my energy outwards I hope to be able to spend more time motivating policy makers, encouraging public and private partnerships, and generally advocating for the changes that we must make as a global society to solve these problems. was formed in 2006 to make investments and grants related to several broad areas, including global poverty, health, energy, and the environment.

Brilliant, an award-winning physician and epidemiologist, began his career as a World Health Organization officer and lived for more than a decade in India, where he focused on the fight against smallpox and polio.

In the technology realm, he is perhaps best known for co-founding the pioneering online community known as The Well.