The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, MD, will invest $3 billion over the next 10 years in an effort to prevent, manage or cure all diseases, Chan announced Wednesday at an event in San Francisco.
While the initiative has already made investments in education and charter schools, this project marks its first major investment in science.
Chan Zuckerberg Science will be funded by the initiative started in December by Zuckerberg and Chan. It will bring together scientists and engineers from various disciplines to build new tools for the scientific community, Chan said.
“We believe the future we want for our children is possible,” she said. “We set a goal: Can we cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime? That doesn’t mean that no one will ever get sick. But it does mean that our children and their children should get sick a lot less.”
“We should be able to detect and treat or at least manage it as an ongoing condition,” she added. “Mark and I believe this is possible within our children’s lifetime.”
$600 million of the funding will go toward Biohub, an independent research facility. It will connect the University of California San Francisco, UC Berkley and Stanford University, with the goal of developing tools to measure and treat all diseases.
The project will concentrate on heart disease, infectious diseases, neurological disease and cancer. According to Zuckerberg, the project’s roadmap includes: uniting scientists and engineers; building tools and technology; and increasing science funding.
Part of the project’s focus is to build a cell atlas, which will document the locations and properties of all cell types. Initiative representatives explained the project will also focus on the incorporation of software engineering into databases and the development of engineered human stem cells.
Chan Zuckerberg Science will be led by Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist from the Rockefeller University.
The U.S. spends 50 times more on treating sick people than curing diseases. “We can do better than that,” Zuckerberg said. To accomplish this, there needs to be a shift towards long-term thinking for research, coupled with more funding.
“It’s going to take years before the first tools are built and years after that before the first diseases are treated,” Zuckerberg said. “We have to be patient.”