The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative said it would dedicate $3 billion over the next decade towards preventing, curing, and managing all diseases by the end of the century.
“This is about the future we all want for our children,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Chan Zuckerburg Initiative co-founder and Facebook co-founder and CEO. “If there is even a chance we can cure disease in our children’s lifetime — our children can live happier, healthier lives — we’re going to do our part.”
Zuckerberg spoke about the organization’s new focus at an event on Wednesday, which was livestreamed on his Facebook page. The announcement was made with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative co-founder Priscilla Chan, who is a pediatrician and Zuckerberg’s wife.
Chan tearfully spoke about instances where she had to be with families at “the most difficult times of their lives.”
“In those moments and in many others we are at the limit of what we understand about the human body and disease, the science of medicine, the limit of disease and suffering,” Chan said. “We want to push back that boundary.”
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was announced in December with the goal of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” It previously has worked towards education, including leading a $24 million series B investment for Andela, which helps train and place African engineers with tech companies, and a $50 million investment in Indian video learning startup Byju this year.
Both Zuckerberg and Chan emphasized that they don’t think they will be able to fully eliminate disease. However, they are hopeful that disease prevention can be advanced. If people do fall sick, doctors will be able to diagnose, cure, and treat all illnesses by the end of their daughter Max’s lifetime.
To reach the goal, it will be appointing Cori Bargmann as President of Science of Chan Zuckerburg Science. Bargmann, the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor at The Rockefeller University in New York, is a neurologist who helped lead President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative to map brain activity and cure brain-related disorders.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will also be putting $600 million of the funds towards building a “Biohub” building where researchers at Stanford University, University of Calfornia, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco will work together to understand and treat disease. The lab will be lead by biochemist Joseph DeRisi, Professor and Chairman of the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, as well as Stephen Quake, Lee Otterson Professor in at Stanford University’s School of Engineering and Professor of bioengineering of applied physics and physics.