$3 billion to fight diseases
Zuckerberg and his wife will donate $3 billion to eradicate diseases by the end of the century
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chen have announced the creation of their own foundation – Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). The foundation's goal is to rid humanity of dangerous diseases by the end of the 21st century. To achieve this goal, $3 billion will be transferred to the fund. After the announcement of the foundation's creation, Princilla Chen explained its tasks.
"The cure of all diseases," according to her, does not mean that people will stop getting sick. The main goal is to radically reduce the frequency of dangerous diseases, plus to reduce the impact of these diseases on the human body.
Promising research by scientists will be funded, those whose success is not guaranteed in years or even decades. But if the project looks realistic, and its main task coincides with the direction of the foundation's work, then the author of such work can count on receiving support.
According to the Zuckerberg couple, a side task of the foundation is to provide doctors with the working conditions that startup participants in Silicon Valley have. "This means that we will support projects lasting 20 years or even 50 years," Zuckerberg said.
The idea is not new. Many research organizations and individual scientists are engaged in long-term projects, even without significant financial support from outside. But now many specialists who are engaged in projects that do not promise to give results here and now will have the opportunity to work calmly without making excuses to investors or partners every month in the absence of significant results.
$3 billion for large–scale medical research is not as much as it might seem. Especially if we take into account the stated duration of most studies. The Fund will be able to finance only a small fraction of the ongoing work. However, this support is of great importance. The foundation's work will consist not only in financing interesting research, but also in creating new links between research organizations and universities and maintaining existing ones. The work of the foundation will be managed by neuroscientist Cori Bargmann. Her research has led to important discoveries in the field of genetic cancer treatments. Recently, she has published several papers in her specialty related to the study of the effect of genes on neurons.
Bragmenn identifies three main tasks of the CZI Foundation:
- Establishing and strengthening ties between individual teams of scientists and laboratories of various universities for a long time;
- Focusing on the development of methods that can eradicate diseases, and not just treat sick people;
- Improving and expanding the funding of scientific programs.
The program of financing scientific research in the medical field for a century is divided into stages. The first stage is called Biohub. The goal that is planned to be fulfilled is to establish cooperation between Stanford, the University of California at San Francisco and the University of California at Berkeley. The cooperation will consist in conducting long-term research in the science of diseases.
The duration of the first stage will be 10 years. During this time, the fund will allocate $600 million. The result of completing the Biohub stage will be mapping all cells of the human body with an indication of their functions. The map will be called "Cellular Atlas". It will not be a paper document, but a digital document with a three-dimensional model of the human body. Biologists who study the nature of various diseases will be able to get access to the Atlas. The second project from Biohub is the search for funds that could help destroy a number of dangerous infectious diseases.
During the first ten years, the project will support the work of scientists from these three universities on the implementation of ideas that can lead to the emergence of new tools for combating diseases. These ideas are risky and ambitious, they do not guarantee results, and their authors have very few chances to get the support of traditional funds.
It is still difficult to say what impact the CZI Foundation will have on medical science. The principle of operation of the fund is new, there are practically no analogues. And it is completely unclear whether the money of the head of Facebook and his wife will help rid the world of a number of dangerous diseases, or not.
Other representatives of the IT business also donate money to healthcare. For example, the main goal of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to support and improve the health system, as well as to overcome hunger in poor countries. The fund's funds were allocated to the HIV prevention and treatment program/AIDS and tuberculosis, malaria control, child immunization projects in India and Africa, including within the framework of the GAVI Alliance, and other initiatives.
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