Following in the footsteps of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg is using his tremendous wealth and clout to help improve the quality of life for individuals across the globe. In late 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a corporation designed to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research and energy.”
On top of that, Zuckerberg and Chan have also set up the non-profit Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a medical research initiative with the incredibly noble and ambitious goal: to cure all diseases, or at the very least, more ably prevent and manage especially deadly diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Earlier today, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub announced that it will dole out $50 million to 47 researchers and scientists who will work tirelessly to help investigate and ultimately conquer a wide swath of diseases.
According to TechCrunch, 47 individuals were chosen from a pool of approximately 700 applicants. Those working under the Biohub umbrella will reportedly receive approximately $300,000 a year for a period of five years in pursuit of their specific research areas.
What’s particularly interesting is that the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub isn’t necessarily interested in duplicating concurrent efforts from other research institutions. On the contrary, the 47 Biohub researchers will have free rein to explore all sorts of issues, the more ambitious the better.
Biohub co-president and UCSF infectious disease specialist Joe DeRisi says the goal is not to supplement what researchers are already doing, but to allow them to explore “blue-sky” areas. Although some awards went to already-well-funded faculty, many winners are young scientists striving to get grants, he says.
Also interesting is that the Biohub will attempt to foster an extremely collaborative research environment as opposed to having researchers working independently, completely oblivious to outside efforts and assistance.
Indeed, collobaration is a principle that seemingly underscores the structure of the Biohub organization itself.
To wit, the following blurb appears on the Biohub website:
“Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. It starts with bringing together—for the first time—three of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions: UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSF. As we move forward, we will reach out to colleagues at other institutions, and in the Silicon Valley tech community, to build momentum and cultivate new ideas in the global fight against disease.”