Last year , Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg—along with his wife—launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. His wife, of course, is Priscilla Chan; and this initiative aims to “advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”
Together, they have pledged to donate 99 percent of their shares of Facebook—the equivalent of roughly $50 billion—to this venture. This week, though, the couple announced their next project, aimed at curing disease. As such, they have pledged more than $3 billion USD over the next ten years to cure and prevent and manage diseases by the end of this century.
Their plan has three tracts. First, they will bring together more scientists and engineers. Secondly they will build tools and technology to better empower the scientific community as a whole. And finally, they will grow the movement to more effectively fund scientific research. Obviously, that first step has already begun as they have, indeed, already started to partner engineers, scientists, and doctors with universities.
And leading this charge is Dr. Cori Bargmann who will also become the initiative’s President of Science.
Zuckerberg notes, “We spend about 50 times more treating people who are sick than we invest in research so you won’t get sick in the first place,” adding also that public support for this initiative is very important.
He goes on to say, “We have to be patient. This is hard stuff. This is about the future that we all want for our children. If there’s even a chance that we can cure all diseases, we have to do it. We have the opportunity to leave the world a much better place than when we found it.”
While patience is important, of course, it is easier to be patient when you have already started and the initiative’s first investment is in a facility known simply as Biohub. This is a place that combines the efforts of researchers and engineers from UC-Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford to specifically develop new tools for the treatment of diseases. It will serve also as a central point for collaboration across several disciplines; led by Joseph DeRisi—who has PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics—and Stephen Quake—who has a Dphil in Bioengineering and Applied Physics, and Physics.
Among Biohubs first projects is something called Cell Atlas. This project looks to investigate various human cell types to bette understand the more complex cellular interactions within the human body.