He is a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Between 2001 and mid-2006 Yamada had been the chairman of R&D at the global drug company, GlaxoSmithKline and a member of its board since 2004. "At GSK he oversaw more than 100 clinical projects, a budget exceeding $4 billion, and more than 15,000 employees. He has been credited with transforming research and development efforts at GSK, and expanding its product pipeline. Prior to GSK, Dr. Yamada held several senior positions at SmithKline Beecham over five years, including chairman of R&D. He was previously chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine," the media release announcing his appointment to the Gates's foundation stated.
Yamada is also a "trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a foundation that promotes global sustainable development, peace, democracy, and security. He is past President of the Association of American Physicians, past President of the American Gastroenterological Association, Master of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been a board member of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member at large of the National Board of Medical Examiners", the announcement stated.
Yamada's Response to Dr John Buse's Safety Concerns about GSK's Avandia
After Dr. John Buse raised concerns in 1999 about possible cardiovascular risks associated with GSK's diabetes drug Avandia, the company was quick to respond. In November 2007 a United States Senate Committee on Finance staff report revealed that Yamada had played a role in GSK's campaign to neutralise Buse's criticisms. Drawing on internal company documents, the committee's staff report stated that as the head of GSK's research department, Yamada had "discussed Dr. Buse with GSK's CEO Dr. Jean-Pierre Garnier as well as David Stout, a senior GSK executive. Dr. Garnier and Mr. Stout are copied on the email." 
In his email, Yamada wrote:
- In any case, I plan to speak to Fred Sparling, his former chairman as soon as possible. I think there are two courses of action. One is to sue him for knowingly defaming our product even after we have set him straight as to the facts—the other is to launch a well planned offensive on behalf of Avandia ..."
The report noted that "indeed, Dr. Yamada called Fred Sparling, Dr. Buse's department chairman. Three days later, Dr. Buse wrote a letter to Dr. Yamada attempting to clarify his position on Avandia. Dr. Buse's letter began, 'I wanted to set the record straight regarding all the phone calls and questions I have received….' The phone calls that Dr. Buse referred to were made by GSK officials including Dr. Yamada regarding the speeches that Dr. Buse gave at conferences suggesting cardiovascular problems associated with Avandia."
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, "Tachi Yamada Selected to Lead Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program", Media Release, February 6, 2006.
- Committee Staff Report to the Chairman and Ranking Member, Committee on Finance, United States Senate, The Intimidation of Dr. John Buse and the Diabetes Drug Avandia, November 2007.