Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan have pledged a whopping $3 billion to rid the world of all diseases by the time the century ends, announcing the creation of a program called Chan Zuckerberg Science at an event in San Francisco.
Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, promised in 2015 that he would donate 99% of his shares to charitable causes and stuck to his word as he and his wife put all their shares in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), valued now at $45 billion. The initiative aims to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research and energy.”
Chan, a pediatrician, said, “I’ve worked with families at the most difficult moments of their lives.” She recalled an incident in her practice when she had to tell parents that their child had an incurable disease. She says other similarly painful incidents are the reason she’s working with scientists in order for the world to be rid of disease by the end of this century.
[We want to] make a better future for our children.
He published a letter to his daughter Maxima in 2015, saying that she represents his and his wife’s hope for the world and their hope that the child’s generation is headed towards a future where there won’t be any kind of disease.
The billionaire then presented the primary health problems the world now faces, and how Chan Zuckerberg Science intends to tackle the leading mortality causes: heart disease, neurological disease, cancer and infectious disease. He admitted that while no single medical advancement can get rid of all these, the investment in coming up with new tools and research will give scientists a better understanding of which direction to move towards.
He also presented a three-part roadmap: first, to bring scientists and engineers together, second to build tools and technology and third is to expand the program to move science forward.
Zuckerberg also pointed out that traditional academic models are not efficient enough in creating breakthroughs, saying that he intends to rework that model and fund long-term initiatives – a move that can potentially improve scientific discoveries.
Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist from the The Rockefeller University and the newly-appointed president of Chan Zuckerberg Science, then explained where the $3 billion would go. These include BioHub, a medical science research center, a project called Transformational Technologies that will focus on tool for treatment and prevention, and Challenge Networks, a communication channel to bridge doctors, engineers and experts to facilitate better exchange of ideas and studies.