Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced last Wednesday that they plan to invest at least $3 billion towards disease prevention and treatment, with the ultimate goal of curing all disease by the end of the century. Although this objective is daunting, Zuckerberg explains, “This is about the future we all want for our children. If there’s even a chance that we can help cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime… then we’re going to do our part.” The gift will be made through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the couple’s $45 billion LLC, whose mission is to advance human potential and promote equality. The $3 billion investment will be headed by Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist from The Rockefeller University.
An initial $600 million will go towards the creation of Biohub, an independent research center in collaboration with Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco. The program will focus on heart disease, infectious disease, cancer, and neurological disease, which together cause the majority of global deaths. To address these challenges, Zuckerberg hopes to create opportunities for substantial long-term research, beyond what typical academic grants afford. Biohub’s findings will be made publicly available to doctors and researchers around the world, in hopes of hastening scientific progress.
With this pledge, Zuckerberg and Chan join a growing list of tech entrepreneurs who have made significant donations towards scientific research and public health. Notably Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has given over $10 billion to global health initiatives through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates also spoke at the event, calling it “very bold, very ambitious… We need more science.” Several other Facebook co-founders and executives, including Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker, have also made substantial commitments. Parker pledged $250 million to six cancer centers earlier this year.