Chan Zuckerberg Initiative funds research center to find cures for disease.

Curing major disease is a big initiative, yet Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, MD, are on a quest to do just that. Zuckerberg announced that he will be selling up to $13B in Facebook stock to help fund the new goal of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI): curing, preventing or managing all diseases “in our children’s lifetime.

Their research center, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, funds ambitious young scientists with big goals, such as Markita Landry, Ph.D., a chemical engineer who runs a lab at UC Berkeley and seeks to develop technology that could measure the chemistry of the brain.

In an emailed statement, Chan herself acknowledged that the mission is “ambitious,” but added, “if we focus on empowering scientists with tools to unlock their work and the field — that goal could be within our reach.”

CZI is backing a major initiative known as the Human Cell Atlas, which aims to map out every single cell in the human body. Understanding our microbiome and cell at every level will be new data that has not been achieved before by researchers and scientists. This will be instrumental in helping combat the mystery of what causes major diseases that we don’t have the answers for that are necessary to help cure and prevent them in millions of people.

Other initiatives backed by CZI include:

  • CZI acquired a research search engine called Meta which is working to help scientists find relevant papers more easily
  • $12.5 million effort to bring more engineering tools to the field of imaging. Once the application process closes, 10 to 15 imaging scientists will be given funding for three to five years of research at imaging centers across the country.
  • It partnered with New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to help develop its bioRxiv service for biologists to share and search for scientific papers.
  • It’s working with protocols.io, a start-up building a repository for life-sciences researchers to share information about methods; it refers to itself as a “Github for life sciences methods.”
  • Advisory group stake to provide a $150,000 grant for ASAPbio, which stands for “accelerating science and publication in biology,” to bring more transparency to life sciences communication.

“We believe that greater collaboration across science and technology is key to giving more people an equal shot at living healthy and prosperous lives,” Dr. Chan told CNBC. “We’re proud to play a role in making that happen.”

Zuckerberg has vowed to sell up to 75 million shares of Facebook To fund CZI. 2018 he has sold 29 shares, adding more than $5.3 billion to CZI. This new announcement and goal is aggressive. Dr. Chan understands CZI’s goals may seem far-fetched, but said the initiative aims to “focus on empowering scientists with tools to unlock their work and the field — that goal could be within our reach.”

Source: CNBC, Reporter Christina Farr

 

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