Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropy organisation just acquired a startup to help cure the world's diseases

Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a session of the APEC CEO Summit in Lima on November 19, 2016. (RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organisation has bought Meta, a search engine that uses artificial intelligence to find scientific research papers.

The acquisition will aid Zuckerberg’s goal of curing the world’s diseases by the end of the century, Meta cofounder Sam Molyneux said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Zuckerberg founded The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with his wife Priscilla Chan in late 2015 as a vehicle to eventually give away the vast majority of his $52 billion fortune. In September, the couple announced that they were donating $3 billion to curing the world’s major diseases, including a $600 million research center in San Francisco called the Biohub.

Meta will continue to operate and be made available as a free resource for the scientific community. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has invested in a few education startups to date, but Meta marks the organisation’s first full acquisition.

“In keeping with Chan Zuckerberg Science’s model for working with the community, we can now collaborate with experts and academics in ways that were never before possible as a startup,” Molyneux said. “Through open solicitations, convenings, joint projects and grants, we will embrace the ideas and efforts of researchers in the diverse fields that Meta intersects with — including machine learning, network science, ontologies, science metrics, and data visualisation.”

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